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Introduction ~ .. . .. 9 

Si. John the Baptist - - 11 

St. Paul, the first hermit - ?4 

St. Antony . 46 

St. Hilaiion .. .. .. ~ $;j 

St. Malchus - 114 

SS. Pachomius and Palemei. -. - l-2-j 

S f . Ainmon .. .. .. ~ 153 

St. Paul the Simple [^ 

S: . Macavius, the Elder - - 171 

St. Macarius of Alexandria - - 19Q 

SS. Isidore and Pambo .. .. .. 203 

j t Julian Sabbas - .. .. .. 214 

St. Abraham .. . 221 

St. John of Egypt - . 235 

St Arsenius .. .. 24S 

St. Nilammon .. .. .. 255 

St Simon Stylites .. .. 2o7 

>! Euthymius .. .. .. .. .. 273 

St Theodosius the Ceniobarch 291 


*t Jjhn the Silent ........ - 317 

St. John Climachus 329 

St. John the Almoner 34C 

St. Syncletica - - 371 

St. Thais the Penitent ...... 3SO 

St. Pelagia the Penitent - 3S4 

St. Mary of Egypt - 393 

St. Jerome ............ 412 

SS. Basil the Great, and Gregory Nazianzen 437 

St. John Chrysostom. 4S9 

A Collection of remarkable Sayings, Aphorisms, and 

Examples, of the Eastern Solitaries, out of Rufinus, 537 
Out of an ancient writer, translated by Pelagius the 

Deacon, ~ - - .. 555 
Out of the Spiritual Meadow of John Moschus and 

8t Souhronius. - 973 

IP as 

subject to be brought before the- minds of this 
worldly-wise and self- worshipping generation ! 
how can men and women who live but to indulge 
their tastes, and fancies, and gratify their pas 
sions, understand or appreciate the antiquated 
custom of crucifying the flesh, and macerating 
the body by vigils and fasts, and giving up all 
the fascinations of this world to devote the 
whole being, heart, and soul to God from whom 
it came ? " And then it is only the Catholics 
who practise these things, or are at all influ 
enced by such notions. It is only the Church 
of Rome that inculcates such unnatural doc 
trines, and teaches people to forget themselves 
and be as though they were not." Very true, 
and it is only for Catholics that these pages 


are expected to have any interest. We have no 
idea of penetrating the depths of the burning 
deserts, and entering the cavern or cell where 
the solitary abides in uninterrupted commune 
with his God, to lay bare the beautiful recesses 
the calm, untroubled depths of his super-human 
soul merely to expose them to the derision of 
the unbeliever. The saints of the desert the 
religious of the cloisters all the monastic or 
ders whether active or contemplative are the 
pride and glory of the Church they are her 
richest treasures her chosen children, who sit 
ever at her feet drinking in her divine precepts 
and literally putting them in practice ; they are 
the blooming wreaths wherewith she crowns her 
beloved Spouse, because they are His faithful 
imitators, and her docile pupils. It is true 
very true that the children of this world who 
are wiser in their generation than the children of 
light have little or nothing in common with these 
saintly personages, and that in their eyes our 
Anthonys, our Anselms, our Teresas, nay even 
our Jeromes, our Gregorys, and our Basils beai 


but a sorry figure nay, the divine Precursor 
himself the first of our solitaries must seem 
little better than a fool, because he practised, 
to the very letter, this spirit of self-denial which 
the world cannot understand, but which the 
Church of God has ever inculcated, and still 
does inculcate. 

This work of Dr. Challoner s has long been 
familiar to the Catholic public, and it is a very 
fair collection of the EMINENT SAINTS OF THE 
DESERT, but on looking over it recently, prior 
to its re-publication, it struck me that there 
were a few important omissions. I looked in 
vain for the lives of St. Jerome St. Gregory 
Nazianzen, or his illustrious friend, St. Basil the 
Great, and knowing that some portion of the 
lives of each of those great saints was spent a 
solitude, I thought it would be an acceptable 
addition to the work to give the monastic lives 
of those three illustrious doctors, who have 
rendered and do still render such invaluable 
service to the Church. This portion of their 
lives I found in a French work er titled Vies del 

ffil PREFACE. 

Peres du desert, and it is with much pleasure 
that I now give their rightful place to these three 
great Fathers of the Oriental Church. As for 
the style of the translation I shall say nothing, 
for I had only to make the best of a bad bar 
gain, as there was no style at all in the original. 
However, in a work of this kind, which is chiefly 
read by pious Christians, I have not much to 
dread from criticism, and with that conviction I 
proceeded in my task, being more anxious to do 
honor to the sainted memory of these great 
men who may be truly called " pillars of the 
Church " than to produce a finished piece of 

3&. a. *. 

MONTREAL, July 1352 


AMONGST the various departments of reading, none can 
be more interesting than that which records the actions 
of men who have rendered themselves illustrious by 
their wisdom, their heroism, or their eminent virtues. 
In the Lives of the Saints of the Oriental Deserts, the 
reader will find an heroism that exceeds the natural 
powers of man ; a wisdom, in comparison of which 
that of a Socrates or a Solon is but childishness (for 
wisdom becomes more or less estimable in proportion 
to the value of the objects that attract its attention) 
hence the virtues of the illustrious characters whose 
memoirs are the subject of the subsequent pages, as 
far surpass those of the most exalted characters of 
Pagan antiquity, as man in a state of nature is sur 
passed by the angelic spirits. 

Many traits will be found in their lives that cannot 
accord with the enervated delicacy of modern ideas 
and habits, pre-occupied, as they unfortunately are, by 
the false maxims and vitiated manners of an age that 
labors to substitute a vain philosophy, the pander of 
every passion, in lieu of divine revelation, which nor 
only commands and afford the means of their subjuga 
tion, but also invites us to erect on their ruins tha 
fabric of evangelical perfection. 


The Almighty has at all times inspired his servants 
with a conduct suitable to the exigencies of the age in 
which they lived, making them all to all, in order tu 
gain all to himself. Reasonings and exhortations- 
make but a feeble impression on ignorant or brutal 
men, accustomed to blood and pillage ; men who, as 
they had been trained up in the fatigues of war, and 
were always in the harness, hardened in vicious 
habits and blinded by hereditary errors, would have 
esteemed ordinary austerities a, to nothing ; but when 
they witnessed an absolute contempt of all earthly 
comforts in an Antony, a Macarius, <fec. the severe 
chastisements they inflicted on themselves, and their 
alacrity in assuaging the corporal as well as the spirit 
ual necessities of others, which proceeded to such a 
length as even to do penance for them, what could 
they infer, but that they loved God and their neighbor 
with an ardor at once holy and invincible. With 
minds therefore deeply impressed with so edifying an 
exterior, they became more docile ; and from listening 
to those whom they so greatly admired, at length be 
came proselytes to the holy religion they professed. 
Thus St. Abraham, by his invincible patience and 
meekness under a series of the most cruel outrages 
for the space of three years, more than by his preach 
ing, subdued the olindness and obstinacy of the Pagans 
near Edessa, who were at length obliged to acknow 
ledge, " that the God whom he preached must be the 


true God, and the religion which taught him so much 
patience and charity, the true religion." Thus Theo- 
doret witnessed Simon Stylites from his pillar receiving 
the abjuration of multitudes of Iberians, Armenians. 
Persians, and Saracens, who, in his presence, with a 
loud voice renounced their idols, and trampled them 
under foqt. And thus barbarians and infidels of dis 
tant regions frequently invoked with success, protection 
amidst the dangers of the sea, in the name of the God 
of Theodosius. 

But it is not in Pagan or barbarian nations only, 
that the lives of these illustrious men have contributed 
to promote the cause of God and virtue : St. Chry- 
sostom, who was no less distinguished for his learning 
and accomplishments, than for being the metropolitan 
of the Eastern Empire, recommends (Horn. 8. in Matt. 
7. p. 128,) the reading the life of St. Antony, as re 
plete with instruction and edification ; and St. Augus- 
tin, in the eighth book of his Confessions, chap. 6, 
gives a minute detail of the conversion of two courtiers 
in the emperor s service, who had renounced the world 
by accidentally reading the life of St. Antony ; and 
moreover attributes his own conversion in a great 
measure to the same cause. 

There was a time when the bare testimonies either 
of St. Chrysostom or St. Augustin, would render any 
further arguments in favor of a work of this kind un* 


necessary ; but, unfortunately in an age wherein seep 
ticism and infidelity are so prevalent, the most vener 
able authority or incontestible evidence in support of 
miraculous or supernatural events, whether of an an 
cient or modern date, will not always satisfy the weak 
or temporising amongst those who consider themselves 
of the number of the faithful who generally listen 
with indifference, or treat with disdain and derision, 
the bare mention of a miracle ; for stupidity itself will 
on such occasions assume the office of censor, and as 
pire to wit, when tinctured by the buffoon philosophy 
of Voltaire s school. 

A distinguished modern, MONTESQUIEU, whose works 
are supposed to have promoted the French- Re volution, 
imagines the spectres that tempted the otherwise as 
sailed St. Antony and others, to have been metaphor 
ical ; whereas such a supposition, if admitted as a 
truth, would not only invalidate the testimonies of SS. 
A.thanasius, Jerome, Cyril, &c. but even the holy 
Scriptures themselves, Wisd. xvii. where it is said, that 
during the Egyptian darkness, the infernal spirits in 
creased the terror of the inhabitants by frightful ap 
paritions; of whose existence even the Pagan poet 
Virgil seems to have had some idea. 

Yet be not overbold, 

The slippery God will try to loose his hold ; 
And various forms assume to cheat thy sight ; 
And with vain images of beasts affright 


With foamy tusks will seem a bristly boar, 

Or imitate the lion s angry roar ; 

Break out in crackling flames to shun tny snare, 

Or hiss a dragon, or a tiger stare ; 

Or with a wife thy caution to betray, 

In fleeting streams, attempt to slide away. 

Georg. B. iv 

That the Almighty has, at certain periods, granted 
a limited power to the devil personally to, tempt or 
torment the sons of men, either with a view to put the 
virtue of his chosen servants to a trial,, and, thereby 
afford them opportunities of triumphing over the pow 
ers of hell, or for other reasons best known, to his ever 
just but inscrutable judgments, is .evident from the 
testimonies, of the scriptures both of the Old and New 
Testaments : as in the cases. of Job, our Saviour in 
the desert the young man possessed by the devil ; 
and several other instances of, the kind recorded by 
the Evangelists. Similar events have also frequently 
occurred in every age of .the church, in countries 
emerging, or struggling to., emerge, from Idolatry into 
Christianity through the missionary labors of apostoli 
cal men ;* for when Satan perceives kingdoms over 
which he had for so long a time exercised an almost 
unlimited control, on the point of being extricated from 
his dominion, it is then he exerts the utmost extent of 
ais power to retain them under his subjection. 

* See Butler s " Lives of the Saints." See also " Missionea 
Orientales," reeve et imprime a Londres, ann. 1797. 


In a word, whatever may appear -upernatuial to 
our readers, in the perusal of the lives of these holy 
solitaries, rests on the same credit arid authority as the 
most ordinary and familiar circumstance related of 
their ; nor is any miraculous interposition of Provi- 
denoo enabling them to pursue a system of life, impos 
sible to mere human efforts, that has not a parallel in 
the holy scriptures themselves : for example, if some 
of them fasted many weeks without any corporal sus 
tenance [without referring to the forty days fast of our 
Saviour in the desert], did not Elias and St. John the 
Baptist also fast in the same rigorous manner ? If 
St. Paul the first hermit was miraculously fed by a 
raven, was not the prophet Elias also fed in a like mi 
raculous manner ? If a lioness saved the life of St. 
Malchus and his companion in a cave, and destroyed 
their vengeful pursuers, did not bears also rush from 
the woods to devour the wicked children who had de 
rided and insulted the baldness of Elizeus the prophet ? 
But however wonderful and interesting the events here 
recorded of these venerable solitaries may appear, yet 
the sublime virtues which they practised are by far 
more deserving of our frequent contemplation. In 
profane history we often discover the most splendid 
actions of worldly heroes tainted by motives of pride, 
vanity, or self-interest : whereas we invariably find the 
heroes of the wilderness to have founded their great- 
less on the most profound humility, and absolute an 


nihilation of their own will, that they might the more 
implicitly conform in every action and circumstance of 
their lives to the holy will of God ; hereby exemplify 
ing in themselves the character of a mo:jk or anchoret 
as drawn by the celebrated Abbe Ranee, founder of 
the Abbey of La Trappe : " When," says he, " a soul 
relishes God in solitude, she thinks no longer on any 
thing but heaven she forgets the earth, on which 
there is nothing that can please her she burns with 
the fire of divine love, and sighing after God alone, 
regards death as her greyest advantage. Neverthe 
less, they will find themselves much deceived, who, on 
forsaking the world, imagine they shall advance to 
wards God by straight paths, or roads sown with lilies 
and roses ; or that they have chosen a state in which 
they will find no difficulties to encounter that could 
disturb the tranquillity of their retreat, which the hand 
of God will not turn aside : on the contrary, they must 
be persuaded that temptations will every where pursue 
them ; that there is no time nor any place wherein 
they can be exempt from them ; that the peace which 
God promises is procured in the midst of tribulations, 
as rosebuds are found among thorns. God has not 
nromised his servants that they should meet with no 
trials, but that with the temptation he will also give 
them the grace to overcome it. Heaven is offered us 
on no other condition : it is a kingdom of conquests, 
n prize of victory ; but, God ! what a prize I ! !. " 





SAINT John the Baptist, the son of Zachary and Eli 
zabeth, was sanctified and hallowed in his mother s 
womb, and even in the tender years of childhood re 
ceived an inspiration to retire to the wilderness, where 
his holy life manifested the true effects of grace on a 
heart that has burst the bonds of the slavery of sin. 
St. John the Baptist was called by God to be the fore 
runner of his Divine Son, to usher him into the world, 
and to prepare mankind by penance to receive their 
great Redeemer, whom the prophets had foretold at a 
distance through every age from the beginning of the 
world ; never ceasing to excite the people of God to 
faith and hope in him, by whom alone they were to 
be saved. The more the sublime function of this saint 
surpassed that of the Jewish legislator and of all the 
patriarchs and ancient prophets, the greater were the 
graces by which he was fitted for the same. Some of 


the prophets had been sanctified from their birth ; but 
neither in so wonderful nor in so abundant a mannei 
as the Baptist. In order to preserve his innocence 
spotless, and to improve the extraordinary graces 
which he had received, he was directed by the Holy 
Ghost to lead an austere and contemplative life in the 
wilderness, in the continual exercises of devout prayer 
and penance, from his infancy till he was thirty years 
of age. How much does this precaution of a saint, 
who was strengthened by such uncommon privileges 
and graces, condemn the rashness of parents who ex 
pose children in the slippery time of youth to the con 
tagious air of wicked worldly company, and to every 
danger ! or, who, instead of training them up in suit 
able habits of self-denial, humility, devotion, and rea 
sonable application to serious duties, are themselves by 
example and pernicious maxims the corruptors of their 
tender minds, and the flatterers of their passions, which 
they ought to teach them to subdue. 

St. John cannot be commonly imitated by youth in 
his total retreat from the world ; but he teaches what 
are the means by which they must study, according to 
their circumstances, to sanctify that most precious age 
of life ; what they must shun, in what maxims they 
ought to ground themselves, and how they are to form 
and strengthen in themselves the most perfect habits 
of all virtues. Let them consider him as a special 
pattern, and the model of innocence and of that fervor 


with which they must labor continually to improve in 
wisdom, piety, and every virtue. He is particularly 
the pattern which those ought always to have before 
their eyes, who are called by God to the ministry of 
his altar, or of his word. Let no one be so rash as to 
n trade himself into the sanctuary- before he has la 
bored a long time to qualify himself for so high an 
office by retirement, humility, holy contemplation, and 
penance, and before the spirit of those virtues -has 
taken deep root in his soul. Saint John led a most 
austere life in the wilderness conversing only with 
God, till, in the thirtieth year of his age, he was per 
fectly qualified to enter upon the administration of his 
office; that being also the age at which the priests 
and Levites were permitted by the Jewish law to begin 
the exercise of their functions. The prophets had long 
before described the Baptist as the messenger and 
forerunner sent to prepare the way of the Lord, by 
bringing men to a due sense of their sins, and to the 
other necessary dispositions for receiving worthily their 
Redeemer. Isaias and Malachy in these predictions 
allude to harbingers and such other officers whom 
princes upon their journeys sent before them, to take 
care that the roads should be levelled, and all obstruc 
tions that might hinder their passage removed. 

God, by a revelation, intimated to John his com 
mission of precursor in the wil lerness, and the faithful 
minister began to discharge it in the desert of Judca 


itself near the borders, where it was thinly inhabited, 
upon the banks of the Jordan, towards Jericho, 
Clothed with the weeds of penance, he announced to 
all men the obligation they lay under of washing away 
their iniquities with the tears of sincere compunction ; 
and proclaimed the Messiah, who was then coming to 
make his appearance among them. He was received 
by the people as the true herald of the most high 
God, and his voice was, as it were, a trumpet sounding 
from heaven to summon all men to avert the divine 
judgments, and to prepare themselves to reap the ben 
efit of the mercy that was offered them. All ranks 
of people listened to him, and, amongst others, came 
many Pharisees, whose pride and hypocrisy, which 
rendered them indocile, and blinded them in their 
vices, he sharply reproved. The very soldiers and 
publicans or tax-gatherers, who were generally persons 
hardened in habits of immorality, violence and injus 
tice, flocked to him. He exhorted all to works of 
charity, and to a reformation of their lives, and those 
who addressed themselves to him, in these disposi 
tions, he baptized in the river. The Jews practised 
several religious washings of the body as legal purifi 
cations ; but no baptism before this of John had so 
great and mystical a signification, It chiefly repre 
sented the manner in which the souls of men must be 
cleansed from all sin and vicious habits, to be made 
partakers of Christ s spiritual kingdom, and it was aD 


emblem of the interior effects of sincere repentance ; 
but it differed entirely from the great Sacrament of 
Baptism which Christ soon after instituted, to which it 
was much inferior in virtue and efficacy, and of which 
it was a kind of type. 

St. John s baptism was a temporary rite, by which 
men who were under the law were admitted to some 
new spiritual privileges, which they had not before, 
by him who was the messenger of Christ, and of his 
new covenant. Whence it is called by the fathers a 
partition between the law and the gospel. This bap 
tism of John prepared men to become Christians, but 
did not make them so. It was not even conferred in 
the name of Christ, or in that of the Holy Ghost, who 
had not been as yet given. When St. John had 
already preached and baptized about six months, our 
Redeemer went from Nazareth, and presented himself, 
among others, to be baptized by him. The Baptist 
knew him by a divine revelation, and, full of awe and 
respect for his sacred person, at first excused himself, 
but at length acquiesced out of obedience. The Sa 
viour of sinners was pleased to be baptized among 
sinners, not to be cleansed himself, but to sanctify the 
waters, says St. Ambrose, that is, to give them the 
virtue to cleanse away the sins of men. St. Austin 
and St. Thomas Aquinas think he then instituted the 
holy Sacrament of Baptism, which he soon after ad 


ministered by his disciples, whom doubtless he had 
first baptized himself. 

The solemn admonitions of the Baptist, attended 
fcith the most extraordinary innocence and sanctity, 
and the marks of his divine commission, procured him 
a mighty veneration and authority among *he Jews, 
and several began to look upon him as the Messiah, 
who, from the ancient prophecies, was expected by all 
the nations of the East to appear about that time in 
Judea, as Suetonius, Tacitus, and Josephus testify. 
To remove all thoughts of this kind, he freely declared 
that he only baptized sinners with water in order to 
repentance and a new life ; but that there was one 
ready to appear among them, who would baptize them 
with the effusion of the Holy Ghost, and who so far 
exceeded him in power and excellency, that he was 
not worthy to do for him the meanest servile office. 
Nevertheless, so strong were the impressions which 
the preaching and deportment of John made upon the 
minds of the Jews, that they sent to him a solemn 
embassy of priests and Levites from Jerusalem to in 
quire of him if he was not the Christ. True humility 
shudders at the very mention of undue honor ; and 
the higher applause it meets with among men, the 
lower it sinks in a deep sense and sincere acknowledg 
ment of its own baseness and unvvorthiness, and ID 
the abyss of its nothingness ; and in this disposition it 
is inflamed with a most ardent d-sire to give all praise 


And jyj\ * ,( v. Vj pure gratuitous goodness and mercy 
of God LJOIK. l.i these sentiments St. JoLn confess 
cd, and did not dt.iy : and he confessed, I am not the 
Christ. He also kid the deputies that he was neither 
Elias nor a prophet. He was indeed Elias in spirit; 
being the great harbli ger of the Son of God ; and ex 
celled in dignity the ancient Elias, who was a type of 
our saint. The Baptist was likewise eminently a pro 
phet, and more than a piophet, it being his office not 
to foretell Christ at a ditiance, but to point him out 
present among men. Yet, far from pluming himself 
with titles and prerogative*., as pride inspires men to 
do, he forgets his dignity iu every other respect only 
in that of discharging the obligations it lays upon him, 
and of humbling himself under the almighty and mer 
ciful hand of Kim who had chosen and exalted him 
by his grace. Therefore, because he was not Elias in 
person, nor a prophet in the strict sense of the word, 
though, by his office, more than a prophet, he rejects 
those titles. 

Being pressed to give some account who he was, he 
calls himself the voice of one crying in the desert ; he 
will not have men have the least regard for him, but 
turns their attentions entirely from himself, as unwor 
thy to be named or thought of, and only bids them 
isten to the Summons which God sent them by his 
mouth. A voice is no more than an empty sound ; it 
is a mere nothing. How eloquent does sincere hu 


mility render the saints to express the ser-fcnents of 
their own nothingness ! Like the Baptist, every 
preacher of God s word must be penetrated with the 
most feeling sense of his own baseness ; must study 
always to be nothing himself and in his own eyes, 
whilst yet he exerts all his powers that God, the great 
All, may be known, loved, served, and glorified by all, 
and in all : he must be himself merely a voice, but ?. 
voice of thunder to awake in all hearts a profound 
sense of their spiritual miseries, and of the duties which 
they owe to God. This maxim St. Austin illustrates 
by the following simile drawn by the pagan mytholo- 
gists : " It is related in the fables," says he, " that a 
wolf thought, from the shrillness of the voice, that a 
nightingale was some large creature, and, coming up 
and finding it to have so small a body, said : Thou 
art all voice, and art therefore nothing. In like man 
ner let us be nothing in our own esteem. Let the 
world despise us, and set us at naught, provided we 
only be the voice of God and nothing more." 

The Baptist proclaimed Jesus to be the Messias at 
his baptism ; lie did the same when the Jews consult 
ed him from Jerusalem wnether he was not the Mes 
sias : again, when seeing mm come towards him the 
day following, he called him, The Lamb of God ; 
also when his disciples consulted him about the bap 
tism of Jesus, and on oiher occasions. He baptized 
first in the Jordan on the borders of the desert of J> 


dea : afterward, on the other side of that river, at a 
place called Bethania, or rather Bethabara, which 
word signifies House of the Passage or common ford ; 
lastly at Ennon, near Salim, a place abounding in 
waters, situated in Judea near the Jordan. In the 
discharge of his commission he was a perfect model to 
be imitated by all true ministers of the divine word. 
Like an angel of the Lord he was neither moved by 
benedictions nor by maledictions, having only God and 
his holy will in view. Entirely free from vanity or 
love of popular applause, he preached not himself, but 
Christ. His tenderness and charity won the hearts, 
and his zeal gave him a commanding influence over 
the minds of his hearers. He reproved the vices of 
all orders of men with impartial freedom, and an un 
daunted authority ; the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the 
profaneness of the Sadducees, the extortion of the pub 
licans, the rapine and licentiousness of the soldiers, ana 
the incest of Herod himself. 

The tetrarch Herod Antipas going to Rome in the 
sixteenth year of Tiberius, the thirty-third of. Christ, 
lodged in his way at the house of his brother Herod 
Philip, and was smitten with love for his wife Hero- 
dias, who was niece to them both. He discovered to 
her his criminal passion, and she consented to leave 
her husband and marry him, upon condition that he 
6rst divorced his wife, who was daughter of Aretas s 
king of the Arabs. To this he readily agreed, and 


being returned from Rome in the following autumn, 
he considered how to rid himself of his wife. Tha 
princess having got intelligence of his resolution, mado 
her escape, and fled to her father. By her voluntary 
retreat Herod Antipas saw himself at liberty, and, by 
a notorious infringement of all laws divine and human, 
married Herodias his sister-in-law, though she had 
children by her own husband Philip, his brother, who 
was yet living. St. John Baptist boldly reprehended 
the tetrarch and his accomplices for so scandalous an 
incest and adultery, and said to that prince : It is no. 
lawful for thee to take thy brother" 1 s wife. Herod fear 
ed and reverenced John, knowing him to be a holy 
man ; and he did many things by his advice ; but, on 
the other hand, he could not bear that his main sore 
should be touched, and was highly offended at the 
liberty which the preacher took in that particular. 
Thus, whilst he respected him as a saint, he hated him 
as a censor, and felt a violent struggle in his own 
breast, between his veneration for the sanctity of the 
prophet, and the reproaches of his own conduct. His 
passion still got the better, and held him captive, and 
his flame was nourished by the flatteries of courtiers, 
and the clamors and artifices of Herodias, who, like an 
enraged infernal fury, left nothing unattemptecl to take 
away the life of him who durst impeach her conduct, 
and disturb her criminal pleasures and ambition, 
fferod, to content her, cast the saint into prison. 


Josephus says, the servant of God was confined in the 
castle of Macherus, two leagues beyond the lake As- 
phaltites, upon the borders of Arabia Petrsea. St. 
Jolm, hearing in prison of Christ s wonderful works 
and preaching, sent two of his disciples to him for 
their information, not doubting but that Christ would 
satisfy them that he was the Messiah ; and that by 
his answers they would lay aside their prejudices, anr 5 
join themselves to him. 

Herod continued still to respect the man of God, 
frequently sent for him, and heard him discourse 
with much pleasure, though he was troubled when 
he was admonished by him of his faults. Herodias 
on the other hand, never ceased by her instigations 
to endeavor to exasperate him against the holv 
man, and to seek an opportunity to compass his 
destruction. An occasion at length fell out favorable 
to her designs. It was about a year since John the 
Baptist had been committed close prisoner, when He 
rod, upon a return of his birthday, made a splendid 
entertainment for the principal nobility of Galilee, in 
the castle of Macherus. The dancing of Salome and 
other circumstances of this banquet are sensible proofs 
to what an infamous pitch of impudence, debauchery 
was carried in this impious court. To dance at ban 
quets was looked upon among civilized nations which 
had any regard to rules of decency and temperance, aa 
a base ^feminaoy, and an excess of softness and volup 


tuoasness, as it is called by Cicero, who clears the re 
putation of king Deiotarus from the aspersion of such 
an indecency, because, being a man remarkable from 
his youth for the gravity of his manners, he was inca 
pable of such an extravagance. That orator had be 
fore endeavored in the same manner to justify Mursena 
from a like imputation. When luxury and intemper 
ance overran the Roman commonwealth, these maxims 
of ancient severity still so far prevailed, that Tiberius 
and Domitian, who will never pass for rigid reformers 
of morals, turned patricians out of the senate for having 
danced, and the former banished all the professed dan 
cers and comedians out of Rome, so incompatible with 
purity of manners was a passion for dancing looked 
upon. This reflection leads us to form a judgment ot 
the extreme degeneracy of Herod s court, in which the 
mirth and jollity of this feast was heightened by dan 
cing. Salome, a daughter of Herodias by her lawfti 
husband, pleased Herod by her dancing, insomuch 
that he promised her, with the sacred bond of an oath, 
to grant her whatever she asked, though it amounted 
to half of his dominions. Frcm this instance St. Am 
brose and other fathers take occasion to show the 
dangerous consequences of a passion for dancing, and 
the depravity from which it often takes its rise. Sa 
lome having received the above-said ample promise 
made her by Herod, consulted with her mother whai 
to ask. Hero lias was so entirely devoured by lus/ 


and ambition, as willingly to forego e , T ery other con 
sideration, that she might be at liberty to gratify ner 
passions, and remove him who stood in her way in the 
pursuit of her criminal inclinations. She therefore in 
structed her daughter to demand the death of John 
the Baptist, and her jealousy was so impatient of the 
least delay, for fear the tyrant might relent if he had 
time to enter into himself, that she persuaded the 
young damsel to make it part of her petition that the 
head of the prisoner should be forthwith brought to 
her in a dish. This strange request startled the ty 
rant himself, and caused a damp upon his spirits. He, 
however, assented, though with reluctance, as men 
often feel a cruel sting of remorse, and suffer the 
qualms of a disturbed conscience flying in their face 
and condemning them, whilst they are drawn into sin 
by the tyranny of a vicious habit, or some violent pas 
sion. We cannot be surprised that Herod should be 
concerned at so extravagant a petition. The very 
mention of such a thing by a lady, in the midst of a 
feast and solemn rejoicing, was enough to shock even 
a man of uncommon barbarity. 

The evangelist also informs us, that Herod had con 
ceived a good opinion of the Baptist as a just and 
toly man ; also that he feared the resentment of the 
people, who held the man of God in the highest ven 
eration and esteem. Moreover, it was a constant rule 
or custom, *hat neither the prince s birthday, nor the 


mirth of a public assembly and banquet, were to b 
stained with the condemnation or execution of any 
criminal whatever ; only favors and pardons were to 
be granted on such occasions. Flaminius, a Roman 
general,- was expelled the senate by the censors for 
having given an order for beheading a criminal whilst 
he was at a banquet. Nevertheless, the weak tyrant, 
overcome by his passion, and by a fond complaisance, 
was deaf to the voice of his own conscience, and to 
every other consideration ; and studied, by foolish 
pretences, to excuse a crime which they could only 
serve to exaggerate. He alleged a conscience of his 
oath ; though if it be one sin to take a wicked oath, it 
is another to keep it ; for no oath can be a bond of 
iniquity, nor can any one oblige himself to do what 
God forbids. The tyrant also urged his respect for 
the company, and his fear of giving them scandal by 
a perjury. But how easy would true virtue and 
courage have justified the innocent man to the satis 
faction of all persons whom passion did not blind, and 
have shown the inhumanity of an execution which 
could not foil to damp the joy of the meeting, and 
give offence to all who were not interested in the plot ! 
But the tyrant, without giving the saint a hearing, or 
allowing him so much as the formality of a trial, sent 
a soldier of his guard to behead him in prison, with an 
order to bring his head in a charger, and present it to 
Salome. This oeing executed, the damsel was not 


ifraid to take that present into her hands, ant deliver 
it to her mother. St. Jerome relates, that the furious 
Herodias made it her inhuman pastime to prick the 
sacred tongue with a bodkin as Fulvia had done Cice 
ro s. Thus died the great forerunner of our blessed 
Saviour, about two years and three months after his 
entrance upon his public ministry, about the time of 
the Paschal solemnity, a year before the death of our 
blessed Redeemer. 

Josephus, though a Jew, gives a remarkable testimo 
ny to the innocence and admirable sanctity of John, 
and says, " He was indeed a man endued with all virtue 
who exhorted the Jews to the practice of justice to 
wards men, and piety towards God ; and also to bap 
tism, preaching that they would become acceptable to 
God, if they renounced their sins, and to the cleanness 
of their bodies added purity of soul." This historian 
adds, that the Jews ascribed to the murder of John 
the misfortunes into which Herod fell. For his army 
was soon after cut to pieces by Aretas, king of Arabia 
Petraea, who, in revenge for the affront offered his 
daughter, invaded his territories, and conquered the 
castle of Macherus. When Caligula afterward confer 
red on Agrippa the title of king of Judaea, the ambi 
tious Herodias being racked with envy, prevailed with 
Herod Antipas to repair to Rome, in order to request 
the like favor of the emperor. But Caligula had re 
ceived a bad impression against him, being informed 


by Agrippa that he was making a league with the 
Parthians, and was provided with arms for seventy 
thousand men. Whereupon, instead of granting him 
a crown, he deprived him of his tetrarchate, confiscated 
his goods, and banished him and Herodias to Lyons 
in Gaul, in the thirty-eighth year of the Christian era, 
about four years after Christ had appeared before him 
at Jerusalem, and been treated by him as a mock king. 
Herod and Herodias died in great misery, as Josephus 
assures us, probably at Lyons, though some moderns 
say they travelled into Spain. What Nicephorus 
Calixti and other modern Greeks tell us, is not sup 
ported by any ancient voucher, that Salome going 
over the ice in winter, the ice broke and let her in up 
to the head, which by the meeting of the ice was 
severed from her body. 

The Baptist s disciples came and took away his 
body, which they honorably interred. Rufinus and 
Theodoret inform us, that in the reign of Julian the 
Apostate, the pagans broke open the tomb of St. John 
the Baptist, which was at Sebaste or Samaria, and 
burnt part of his sacred bones, some part being saved 
by the Christians. These were sent to St. Athanasiu.-i 
at Alexandria. Some time after, in 396, Theedosius 
built a great church in that city, in honor of the Bap 
tist, upon the spot where the temple of Serapis had 
fciiNerly stood, and these holy relics were deposited in 
it, asTheophanes testifies. But a distributer of soraf 


portions was made to certain other churches , and the 
great Theodoret obtained a share for his church at Cy 
rus, and relates, that he and his diocess had received 
from God several miraculous favors, through the inter 
cession of this glorious saint. The Baptist s head was 
discovered at Emisa in Syria, in the year 453, and was 
kept with honor in the great church of that city ; till, 
about the year 800, this precious relic was conveyed 
to Constantinople, that it might not be sacrilegiously 
insulted by the Saracens. When that city was taken 
by the French in 1204, Wallo de Sarton, a canon of 
Amiens, brought part of this head, that is, all the face, 
except the lower jaw, into France, and bestowed it on 
his own church, where it is preserved to this day. 
Part of the head of the Baptist is said to be kept in 
St. Sylvester s church, in Carnpo Marzo at Rome; 
though Sirmond thinks this to be the head of St. John 
the Martyr of Rome. Pope Clement VIII., to remove 
all reasonable doubt about the relic of this saint, pro 
cured a small part of the head that is kept in Amiens, 
for St. Sylvester s church. 

This glorious saint was a martyi, a virgin, a doctor, 
a prophet, and more than a prophet. He was de 
clared by Christ himself to be greater than all th<? 
saints of the old law, the greatest of all that had been 
born of women. All the high graces with which ho 
was favored, sprang from his humility ; in this all hia 
other virtues wore founded. If we desire to form our- 


selves upon so great a moiel, we must, above all things, 
labor to lay the same deep foundation. We must 
never cease to purge our souls more and more per 
fectly from all leaven of pride, by earnestly begging 
this grace of God, by studying with this saint, truly 
to know ourselves, and by exercising continual acts of 
sincere humility. The meditation of our own nothing 
ness and wretchedness will help to inspire us with this 
saving knowledge ; and repeated humiliations will 
ground and improve our souls in a feeling sense of our 
miseries, and a sincere contempt of ourselves. 


Abridged from his Life written by St. Jerome. 

THIS Saint was born in the lower Thebais, a province 
of Egypt, in the third century, of Christian parents, 
who being wealthy in worldly riches took care to give 
him a liberal education, and to train him up both in 
the Greek and Egyptian literature ; yet without any 
prejudice to his innocence, or Christian piety ; for 
which he was remarkable from his childhood ; bc-ing 
always of a meek and humble disposition, and greatly 
fearing and loving his God. His parents dying when 
be was about fifteen years of age, left him their estate ; 


wnich he had not long enjoyed, when that bloody per 
secution, set on foot by the Emperor Decius (who em 
ployed all manner of torments to oblige the Christians 
to renounce Jesus Christ, and offer sacrifice to idols,) 
had reached Egypt and Thebais ; where it made many 
martyrs ; and drove many ethers into the deserts and 
mountains ; where great numbers of them perished 
with hunger or sickness, or fell a prey to robbers and 
wild beasts ; as we learn from St. Denys, who was at 
that very time bishop of Alexandria, in his epistle to 
Fabius, bishop of Antioch. Upon this occasion Paul 
also withdrew himself to a remote country-house, de 
signing to lie concealed there till the storm blew over : 
but his sister s husband, who was acquainted with the 
place of his retreat, conceived a resolution to betray 
him to the persecutors in hopes of Dossessing himself 
of his estate. The Saint being informed of his vricked 
resolution, quitted his country-house, and fled into the 
wilderness, where he purposed to pass his time till the 
danger was over. Here, as he advanced still further 
and further into the remoter parts of the desert, he 
came at last to a rocky mountain, at the foot of which 
he found a large den or cave ; and going in, he there 
discovered a kind of a spacious porch, open at the top 
to the heavens, but protected by an old palm-tree, 
which covered it with its spreading branches : near 
which there was a spring of clear water : and in a 
hollow part of the mountain, several cells or rooms, 


irhich, by the instruments lie found there, appeared tc 
Lave been formerly occupied by coiners. This place 
the Saint judged to be very proper for his abode ; an_ 
embraced it as a dwelling assigned him by divine Pro 
vidence for the remainder of his life. And thus be 
who thought only at first to hide himself for a while 
in the wilderness from the fury of the persecutors, was 
by the design of God conducted thither, to be an in 
habitant for life, and the first that should dedicate, 
and, as it were, consecrate, those deserts to divine love ; 
by living there for so many years a perfect model of 
an entire separation and disengagement from all ties 
and affections of this world ; for the instruction and 
encouragement of many thousands, who should, by 
his example, in following ages, embrace a recluse or 
eremitical life. Thus the malice of his brother-in-law, 
by driving him away from his worldly possessions, be 
came the occasion of his embracing a state of life, in 
and by which his soul was daily more and more en 
riched with the treasures of divine grace, and placed 
in the most effectual way to secure to himself immense 
and everlasting treasures in the eternal possession of 
his God. Upon which occasion we may admire and 
adore the wonderful ways of the divine goodness, 
which generally draws the greatest good, even the 
sanctification and salvation of our souls, from what we 
poor mortals apprehend as great evils ; more especially 
from the crosses and sufferings of this life, and the loss 


of those things which are apt to affect us too much, 
to the prejudice of that love which we owe to God. 

But who shall be able to relate the wonderful manner 
of life our Saint here led, estranged from all conversa 
tion with mortals, perpetually addressing himself to 
God, by prayer and contemplation, night and day ; or 
the continual progress he made every day in the love 
of God, the true science of the Saints, and that better 
part which they have chosen with Mary, and which 
never shall be taken from them ? It may suffice to 
say, that the perfection which he attained to in divine 
love, which is the true measure of all sanctity, was so 
great and supereminent in the sight of God, as to ex 
ceed by far that of St. Antony, the wonder of all ages 
for Christian and religious perfection : and this, by the 
testimony of God himself: but yet we are not to sup 
pose that, with all his sanctity, he could be exempted 
in his solitude, no more than St. Antony was, from 
the temptations and molestations of the common ene 
my, who, by the permission of God, is most trouble 
some to those who oppose him most ; though it all 
turns in the end to their greater good, and his own 
confusion. As to the food and raiment of St. Paul, 
we learn from my author, who had his account from 
the disciples of St. Antony, and they from their master 
that he lived (at least for a good part of the time, til 
God was pleased to provide for him in a miraculou. 
manner,) on those dates which the palm-tree produ- 


ced ; and drank of the water of the spring : and as foi 
his clothing, he made himself a garment of the leaves 
of the same tree, woven together after the manner of 
a mat or a basket. And lest this austerity of his life 
might seem to any one incredible, or a thing impossi 
ble, St. Jerome in his relation calls our Lord Jesus and 
his angels to witness, that he himself saw certain soli 
taries in that part of the desert of Syria which borders 
upon the Saracens ; one of whom had lived, shut up 
. for thirty years, upon barley bread alone and muddy 
water ; and another who had chosen for his mansion 
an old pit or cistern, where he had no other food to 
subsist on but five dry figs every day. 

Our saint had now lived in his solitude to the age 
of one hundred and thirteen years , when St. Antony, 
who was then about ninety vejwo old, was one day 
thinking with himself that no one amongst the reli 
gious of Egypt had penetrated further into those wil 
dernesses than he had done. Whereupon he was one 
night admonished in a dream, that there was one still 
further on in the desert much better than himself; 
and that he should make haste to visit him. In com 
pliance with this divine admonition, Antony set out at 
break of day in quest of this servant of God, with 
great confidence that he who had sent him forth, 
would conduct him to the place where he should find 
him. Thus he spent two whole days, fatigued with 
the labor of the journey, and broiled by the heat of 


Ch. an, which is violent in those sandy deserts, meet 
ing ^ith no creature the whole way, except two in 
moi strous shape ; the one representing* a centaur, half 
man : and half a horse, and the other a satyr, made up 
of a man and a goat : which whether they were phan 
toms and illusions of the enemy, or monsters bred in 
those vast wildernesses, is uncertain. The Saint, when 
he opposed to these frightful figures his usual arms, 
the shield of faith and sign of the cross, neither of 
them offered him any harm ; but on the contrary the 
former, on being asked where the servant of God 
dwelt, pointing towards the place, ran swiftly away, 
and disappeared ; and the latter brought him some 
dates for his food ; and being asked, who or what he 
was ? delivered an intelligible answer, (by some su 
pernatural power) with an acknowledgment of God, 
and of Jesus Christ, his Son ; which gave the Saint 
occasion to glorify our Lord, and to reproach the un 
believing city of Alexandria, which refused to acknow 
ledge the true and living God, whom even beasts 
adored, and worshipped these very beasts instead of 
him. At which words of the Saint the monster fled 
away with incredible speed, and was seen no more. 

Antony having spent two nights watching in prayer, 
at break of day on the third morning, he perceived a 
wolf at a distance panting for thirst, going into a cav 
ern at the foot of a mountain. Whereupon coming 
Up to the place after the beast was gone, he ventured 


into the cave, advancing cautiously and silently in tho 
dark, till at length he perceived at some distance a 
glimmering of light (from the opening from above 
over the porch of the cell of the Saint,) upon which 
in hastening forward he stumbled upon a stone, when 
the noise gave occasion to St. Paul to shut his door, 
and fasten it within. Antony was now convinced that 
he found the person whom he sought : and coming 
up to the door earnestly begged for admittance, with 
many tears, lying prostrate on the ground f rom morn 
ing till noon, (to teach us the necessity of fervor and 
perseverance in prayer, if we would obtain what we 
ask,) till at length the holy old man opened the door 
to him. Then after falling upon each other s neck, 
embracing each other, and calling one another by 
their proper names, as if they had been of long ac 
quaintance, they joined in giving thanks to God. 
When they had sat down together, Paul said to An 
tony, behold here the man whom thou hast taken so 
much pains to seek, and who very speedily must re 
turn to dust : tell me, then, if thou pleasest, how man 
kind goes on ; what is the present state of the empire ; 
are there any still remaining that worship devils, &c. ? 
Whilst they were discoursing on these matters, they 
perceived a raven alighting upon one of the branches 
>f the palm-tree, which descending gently, dropped a 
oaf of bread before them, and then flew away. Be 
hold, said Paul, how our loving and merciful Lo k J has 


lent us a dinner ! There are now sixty years elapsed 
since I have daily received from him half a loaf, but 
upon thy coming, Christ hath been pleased to send his 
soldier a double proportion. Then after praying and 
thanksgiving, they sat down by the edge of the spring, 
to take the meal which God hath sent them : but no 
without an humble contention who should break the 
loaf; which they at last decided by breaking it con- 
iointly. After taking a moderate refreshment, they 
laid themselves down to sip at the fountain : and then 
returned to prayer and the praises of God, in which 
they spent the evening, and the whole of the following 

The next morning Paul thus accosted Antony : " It 
is a long time, brother, since I have known of your 
dwelling in these regions : and the Lord long ago 
promised me your company. But as my time is now 
come to go to rest, (as I have always desired to be 
dissolved and to be with Christ,) and my race being 
finished, the crown of justice waits for me, thou art 
now sent by the Lord to cover this body with ground, 
or rather to commit earth to earth." Which when 
Antony heard, breaking out into sighs and tears, he 
began to entreat him not to leave him, but to take 
him along with him for his companion in so happy a 
journey. " Thou oughtest not," said Paul, " to seek 
in this thy own interest, but what may be for the good 
of others. It would be expedient inc eed to thee to 


lay down this load of flesh, and to follow the Lamb : 
but it is necessary to the rest of the brethren, that 
thou shouldest continue here, to instruct them by thy 
example. Wherefore go, I beseech thee r if it be not 
too much trouble, and bring hither the cloak which 
was given thee, by bishop Athanasius, to wrap up my 
body for its burial :" which, says St. Jerome, he asked, 
not that he who for many years had used no other 
clothing but the leaves of the palm-tree, cared much 
whether his body was committed to the earth covered 
or naked, but that Antony being absent when he died 
might be less afflicted with his death. To which our 
church historians add another reason, viz. that by his 
desiring to be buried in the cloak of Athanasius (at 
that time violently persecuted by the Arians, for the 
Catholic faith of the Trinity,) he might bear testimony 
to the cause of God and his truth, and declare to the 
world his communion with his illustrious prelate, who 
was then, and had been all his lifetime, one of the 
principal champions of God and his church against 
the Arian heresy. 

Antony being astonished to hear him speak of Ath 
anasius, and of the cloak (of which he could no other 
wise have been informed but by revelation,) as if ha 
*aw Christ himself in Paul, without making any fur- 
ther reply, kissed his hands with tears, and departing 
from him, made the best of his way home to his rwn 
monastery. Here his two disciples (Amathas and 


Macarias,) asked him where he had been so long ? 
To whom he made no answer, but, " wo to me a 
sinner, who deserve not to bear the name o: a religious 
man ! I have seen Elias : I have seen John in the 
wilderness : I havft seen with truth, Paul in paradise." 
Ajid thus without explaining himself any further, he 
went into his cell, striking his breast, and taking up 
the cloak. instantly hastened away without staying to 
take any refr -^r.ment ; having Paul continually in his 
mind, and fcanug, that which indeed happened, lest 
Paul should die before he reached his cave. On the 
second morning, when he had travelled for about tnree 
hours, he saw the soul of Paul encompassed in great 
glory ascending to heaven, attended with an innumer 
able multitude of angels and saints. At this sjght, 
falling down on the ground, he cried out lamenting 
and mourning : " O Paul, why dost thou leave me ? 
why dost thou go without letting me salute thee ? 
too late, alas-! have I come to know thee, and dost 
thou depart from ro$ so soon ? " Then rising up he 
went on the remaining part of the way, notwithstand 
ing his great age, and his having been before greatly 
fatigued, with such unaccustomed speed, that, as he 
himself afterwards relates, he seemed rather to fly than 

When he arrived and had entered into the cave, he 
found the body of the Saint in the posture of one at 
prayer, kneeling with uplifted hand* ; so that thinking 


he might be yet alive, he knelt down to pray with 
him. But not perceiving him to sigh, as he was ac 
customed at his prayers, he was convinced he was 
dead. Wherefore weeping and embracing the dead 
body, he wrapt it up in the cloak, and carried it out 
singing hymns and psalms according to the christiau 
tradition. But here no small difficulty occurred, how 
he should bury the body, having no spade or other 
nstrument to dig a grave : so that what to do he 
knew not : to go back to his monastery, was three 
days journey ; to stay where he was, was doing noth 
ing. Whilst he remained in this perplexity, behold 
two lions, from the remoter part of the wilderness, 
came running with all speed towards him. At the 
sight of them Antony was at first surprised ; but pre 
sently recollecting himself in God, he shook off all fear, 
and stood his ground till the beasts coming up to the 
place, went and laid themselves down at the feet of 
the deceased saint, and seemed, in their way, to lament 
his death. Then going a little distance off, they "be 
gan to scratch up the sandy ground with their claws, 
and did not cease till they had made a hole big enough 
to answer the purpose of a grave ; which when they 
had done, coming to Antony as it were for their wages, 
wagging their ears and hanging down their heads, 
they licked his hands and feet. The Saint conceivin 
that in their mute way they craved his blessing, took 
occasion to praise and glorify God, -whom all his crea- 


hires serve ; and then prayed in this manner : " O 
Lord, without whose disposition not a leaf falls from 
the tree, nor a sparrow to the ground, give to them as 
thou knowest best :" and so making them a sign with 
his hand he sent them away. Then taking the dead 
body of St. Paul, he laid it down in the grave which 
they had made, and covered it with the earth ; and 
BO returned home, carrying with him the garment 
made of the leaves of the palm-tree, which Paul had 
worn (which for the remaining years of his life he 
always put on upon the solemn festivals of Easter and 
Pentecost,) and related all that he had seen and done 
to his disciples, from whom St. Jerome had his ac 

And here it may not be improper to reflect, with 
this holy Doctor of the church in the conclusion of 
his life of this Saint, on the difference between the 
clothing, eating, drinking, lodging, and, in a word, the 
whole manner of living of this servant of God, and 
that of worldlings, who never think they have enough, 
and are always slaves to their own corrupt inclinations. 
Paul coveted nothing, and wanted nothing ; and there 
fore was always easy and content : they are always 
coveting and wanting, and never perfectly easy. Paul 
with his mean fare enjoyed long life and health, to 
gether with a good conscience and interior peace: 
their intemperances and lusts, their passions, their 
pride, their ambition, their avarice, their envy, thei> 


cares and fears, and the contradictions of their will 
and humor, to which they are perpetually exposed, 
rob them of their health, shorten their days, and ban 
ish both grace and peace far from their souls. In 
fine, Paul with all his poverty and mortifications, was 
happy even here in the experience of the love of hi 
God, in the sense of his divine presence, in the con 
templation of his heavenly truths, in the sweets he 
found in mental prayer, and an inward conversation 
with our Lord ; in the consolations of the Holy Ghost, 
<fec., and by this means h^ passed his days in good 
things, (truly such) till he was in an instant put in full 
possession, by death, of the sovereign and infinite good 
for eternity : whereas they, after their short deluding 
dreams of an imaginary happiness, which is ever Hying 
away from them, awake in a moment, and find them 
selves immersed in the bottomless pit of real, endless, 
and insupportable miseries. 


From Ins Life, -written "by the great St. Athanaeius. 

ST. ANTONY was born in Egypt about the middle of 
the third century, of parents noble and wealthy ; ac 
cording to the world, but withall pious and religious. 
By thorn he was trained up at homo, in great inno- 


pence, so as to be a stranger in a manner to the world ; 
and was by his own inclinations, entirely restrained 
from the company of others of his age, and even from 
frequenting the schools with them, for fear of his mor 
als being corrupted by their conversation or bad ex 
ample. His whole desire was bent upon God : he 
frequented the church in the company of his parents, 
assisted there with great modesty, gravity, and atten 
tion ; and endeavored to follow in his practice the 
instructions and rules of life which he there learnt. 
He was not fond, as children usually are, of dainties, 
or such things as are sweet and agreeable to their ap 
petite, but always took what his parents gave him, and 
Bought nothing more. 

He was about eighteen or twenty years old, when 
his parents dying, left him master of all their wealth, 
which was considerable, with a little sister that was 
very young. But scarce six months were passed after 
their death, when one day going to church according 
to his custom, and thinking with himself how the 
Apostles had left all to follow our Lord, and the prim 
itive Christians (Acts iv.) had sold their possessions, 
and laid the price at the feet of the Apostles, to be by 
them distributed to such as were in want, and how 
great would be the reward m heaven, of them that 
did in this manner. At his coming into the church 
he heard the gospel read out of Matt. xix. where our 
Saviour says to the young man that was rich. v. 21. 


If thou will be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and givt 
to the poor, ani thou have treasure in heaven, 
and come follow me. These words he took as ad 
dressed by our Lord to himself, and particularly de 
signed for him : and in consequence of this divine call 
he presently parted with his whole estate in lands 
sold his moveables, which were of great value, and 
distributed the price to the poor, only reserving a 
small matter for the use of his sister. Some time 
after, when he had heard in the church that part ot 
the gospel read (Matt, vi.) where our Lord warns his 
disciples not to be careful for to-morrow, he concluded 
to part with his house also, and to distribute all that 
remained to the poor ; and having recommended his 
young sister to the care of certain devout virgins, to be 
trained up in their way of life, he quitted the world 
for good and all, and entered with a strong resolution 
upon the narrow and arduous path of religious per 

There were not very many at that time in Egypt 
irho professed a monastic life ; and those that did retired 
not into the deserts, but only lived in separate cells in 
die country, at a small distance from their respective 
villages. One of these, now advanced in years, who 
from his youth had followed this manner of life, lived 
in the neighborhood : him Antony proposed to imi 
tate ; and accordingly he began to follow the same 
kind of life, but in places something more remote froia 


his own village. Accordingly, as often as be r.ould 
hear of any one that labored with more diligence than 
ordinary in the pursuit of virtue and perfection, he 
was sure to visit him, and to seek in his conversation 
and method of life, some lessor for his own instruc 
tion and edification. In the mean time he labored 
with his own hands for his daily food ; and all that he 
gained over and above what was necessary to 
his pittance of bread, he gave to the poor. He praye-i 
very much, and endeavoring quite to forget the world 
and all his worldly kindred, he turned all his affections 
and desires towards the purchasing the hidden trea 
sure of true wisdom, and the precious pearl of divine 
love. In order to this he gaw diligent attention to 
the word of God, contained in the holy Scriptures, 
which he heard, and by meditating thereon, laid up 
all these precepts of our Lord in such a manner in his 
soul, as never to forget any of them ; but to have them 
always written in his memory, as in a book. He en 
vied no one, but had always a great deference for the 
other servants of God ; and was continually studying 
to remark those virtues, in which each one of them 
excelled, in order to imitate them ; and thus assemble 
as it were, and unite together in himself the different 
perfections which he observed in the rest. Thus he 
quickly outstripped them all: and yet remained al 
ways most humble, meek, and full of brotherly love 
and charity, so as to be ever most lear to them alL 


The devil, who was enraged to see so much ardor 
in the pursuit of virtue in a person so young, era- 
ployed all his arts and stratagems to divert him from 
his holy undertaking, and to bring him back again 
into the world; and for this end, he strongly repre 
sented to his imagination the riches and possessions 
which he had quitted, the nobility of his family, the 
glory of this world, the advantages and pleasures of a 
worldly life ; and, on the other hand, the extreme dif 
ficulties and labors to be undergone in this way which 
he had chosen ; the weakness of his body, unfit for 
such extraordinary fatigues ; the long time he might 
have to live under this insupportable burthen, &c. 
suggesting withall that it was a crime in him to have 
abandoned, in the mariner he did, his little sister, 
whom he was obliged to have taken care of. By these 
and such like representations, he strove to induce him, 
after he had put his hand to the plough, to look back, 
and to return again to the world. But the Saint 
overcame all his temptations, by a lively faith ir, 
Christ crucified, and by continual and fervent prayer. 
"Wherefore the enemy changed his batteries, and as 
saulted him in a most violent manner, night and day, 
sleeping and waking, with carnal suggestions and al 
lurements to lust. But the holy young man, armed 
with divine grace, which he procured by earnest and 
constant prayer, conquered also all these temptations, 
by perpetually opposing to them, watchings, fastinjn, 


and mortifications of the flesh, together with the faith 
and remembrance of the judgment to come, of the 
worm that never dies, and of the eternal flames of 
hell. By these means he gaineu so complete a victory 
over the enemy, that he ceased to molest him any 
more in this kind. It was in consequence of this vie 
tory, that the unclean spirit one day appeared to the 
Saint in the shape of a most filthy, ugly, black hoy ; 
bitterly weeping and lamenting, that after having de 
ceived and seduced so many, he had been ove -.ome 
by him. On being asked who he was, he answered 
he was the spirit of impurity, who made it his busi 
ness to wage a continual war against youth, in which 
he was commonly successful ; and that it was he that 
had so often attacked him, but had always been re 
pulsed. Upon this the Saint, giving thanks to God, 
was animated with a new courage against this detest 
able spirit ; and began to sing aloud those words of 
the Psalmist : The Lord is my helper, and I will des 
pise my enemies. (Ps. cxvii. 7.) At which the filthy 
phantom was put to flight. 

These first victories did not render Antony neo-li- 
gent, as if he might now think himself secure, and on 
that account might relax in his spiritual exercises ; foi 
he very well knew that the devil never sleeps, and tha 
he has a thousand ways of tricking and deceivino- un 
wary souls, especially as he holds a close correspond 
ence witr i liu flesh, our domestic enemy, and with OUJT 


unh-aj py self-love and its passions. Wherefore the 
holy young man resolved to be still more upon his 
guard, and to make every day, still greater progress in 
religious perfection. He chastised his body, and 
brought it under subjection by extraordinary auster 
ities ; which how difficult soever in themselves, became 
sweet and agreeable to him, by reason of that ardent 
affection wherewith he embraced them. He fre 
quently watched whole nights in prayer ; he eat but 
onc,e in the four and twenty hours, and that not till 
after sunset. His food was nothing but bread and 
salt, his drink nothing but water, which he drank in a 
Bmall quantity : he sometimes fitsted two days, or 
more, without taking any food whatever. His bed 
was a sort of mat made of bulrushes, .with a covering 
of hair cloth : and sometimes only the bare ground. 
His application to God in prayer was without inter 
mission, like the Apostles (Philip iii. 13, 14,) forget 
ting the things that are behind, that is, all that he had 
already done, he was continually stretching forth him 
self to those that are before ; and pressing, with 
all his power towards the mark, for the prize of 
the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus : ever 
considering himself as if he was just beginning, and 
thinking of no more than of the present day. 

All this not being sufficient to satisfy his hunger and 
thirst after perfection, he chose for himself a dwelling 
amongst the tombs or monuments of the dead. In 


wie of these he shut himself uj, and received from 
time to time his necessary sustenance from a religious 
man who came to visit him. The devil, foreseeing the 
consequences he had to apprehend from this new kind 
of enterprise, and fearing lest by degrees this young 
man should draw many by his example into the desert, 
to the prejudice of his usurped empire, was resolved 
not to suffer him to go on thus ; and therefore (God 
so permitting for the greater merit and glory of his 
Saint,) Satan gathering together his infernal spirits, 
attacked him one night with the utmost fury, inflict 
ing upon him many stripes and grievous wounds, till 
he left him stretched out like one dead, without either 
speech or motion. In this condition his friend found 
him the next morning, and carried him back to the 
village on his shoulders, where a great multitude of 
his kindred and neighbors were assembled about him 
to perform his funeral obsequies ; when, behold, to 
wards midnight, coming to himself, like one awakened 
from a deep sleep, and looking about him, he perceiv 
ed his friend there watching by him (for the rest were 
all asleep) and he made a sign to him to carry him 
back again to his monument, without waking any of 
the company. He did so, and Antony being now 
alone, but not as yet able to support himself on hi? 
feet, by reason of his late treatment, performed his de 
votions, as well as he could, lying prostrate on tho 
floor At the end of his prayer, lifting up his 


in defiance of the spirits of darkness, he cried out with 

a lively faith and confidence in his God, " Lo, here am 

I : here is Antony, ready to encounter with you all ; 

I shall not run away ; do your worst ; none of you 

hail be able to separate me from the love of Christ ;* 

Tien he began to sing with the Psalmist : If the ar- 

flies in camp should stand together against me, my 

heart shall not fear. Ps. xxvi. 3. 

The enemy not enduring to be thus outbraved, re 
assembled his hellish fiends, and returned to the charge 
with greater violent Lhan before, and raising a sudden, 
violent tempest, wp.iet shook the very foundations of 
the place, he laid it open on nil sides ; and entering in 
with all his wicked ones, in the shape of wild beasts 
and serpents of sundry kinds, he not only sought to 
terrify the Saint with their hideous yelling, roaring, 
howling, hissing, (fee., but also made him feel their 
fury in a most sensible manner, by the fresh wounds 
they inflicted upon him. But his courage and con 
stancy was proof against all their attempts ; so that 
notwithstanding the excessive pains he felt in his 
wounded body, he mocked at all their vain efforts, 
reproached them with their weakness and cowardice, 
and with those forms of brutes, to which they were 
now reduced, who had formerly proudly aspired to be 
ike unto God. At length Jesus Christ was pleased 
to come in a visible manner to the assistance of his 
servant in the. midst of this conflict; for lifting up his 

flT. ANTONY. 55 

eyes, he saw the top of the place open, and a bright 
ray of divine light to enter in, which instantly dissi 
pated those infernal spirits, and released him from all 
his pains. The Saint understanding that his Lord 
was present, thus addressed him : ;t Where wast thou 
my good Jesus, all this while ? Where wast thou ? 
Why didst thou not come before to heal my wounds? 
The Lord answered, I was here Antony ; but I waited 
to see thy combat. And now because thou hast fought 
so bravely, and not yielded, I will always assist thee, 
and make thy name famous over the whole earth." 
Antony having heard these words, raised himself up 
to pray, and found that our Lord had now given him 
greater strength than he had before. At the time 
when this happened to him he was about thirty-five 
years old. 

After this, being desirous of advancing still more in 
Christian perfection, he took a resolution of retiring into 
the desert, and of withdrawing himself altogether from 
the conversation of men. This resolution he commu 
nicated to the old monk his friend, of whom we spoke 
above, proposing that he should accompany him ; but 
the old man excused himself, alleging his advanced 
age, and the novelty of such an enterprise. Antony, 
however, no way discouraged, set out upon his jour- 
ley towards the heart of the wilderness, at that time 
utterly uninhabited, arid lying at a very great distance 
from any town or village. As he walked along, ha 


saw a large dish of silver with which the enemy sought 
to interrupt his journey, lying on the ground ; but he 
easily discovered the artifice, and cried : " This is a 
trick of thine, Satan ; thou shalt not divert me from 
my resolution ; keep thy silver to thyself, and let it 
perish with thee." At which words the dish was im 
mediately dissolved into smoke. Afterwards a large 
lump of true gold was flung in his way ; but this was 
no more capable of interrupting his journey, than the 
glittering appearance of the silver dish : for as soon as 
he perceived it, he flew from it with as much speed, as 
if he were flying from a devouring fire ; and proceed 
ed on his way until he came to a mountain, where he 
found an old desolate castle, full of serpents and vene- 
mous creatures, which had taken up their abode there 
in by reason of the length of time it had remained 
uninhabited. This place he made choice of for his 
dwelling ; taking in with him his provisions of bread, 
which with a little water, according to his scanty al 
lowance, might suffice him for six months. 

At his coming to take possession of this castle, all 
its old inhabitants, the serpents and other veneraous 
creatures, having fled away, he shut up the entrance 
with stones, and during the twenty years that he dwelt 
therein, he neither went out at any time himself, nor 
Buffered any one to enter, not even those who brought 
him, at the end of every half year, a fresh provision o, 
bread : which they conveyed to him by getting up to 


the roof and letting it drop down. Tliey that came 
thither, as many did in process of time, out of a desire 
of seeing him, or learning what was become of him, 
sometimes remained the whole night at the door ; and 
ere frequently surprised at hearing the noises where- 
ith the devils sought to molest him, and the voices, 
as it were, of many persons contending with him and 
saying : " Why earnest thou into our habitation ? 
What hast thou to do in the desert ? Depart from 
these coasts which belong not to thee ; never think to 
be able to remain here, or to resist our attacks." 
When those that were without heard these or such 
like words, they at first imagined some men had found 
means to get into his habitation, and were there con 
tending with him ; but looking through the chinks, 
and seeing him all alone, they understood that the 
voices they had heard proceeded from the evil spirits, 
seeking to drive him thence ; and being upon this oc 
casion very much frightened, they called to Antony, 
begging his assistance, whilst, he comforted and en- 
iKmraged them from within, bidding them to arm 
themselves with the sign of the cross, and not to be 
alarmed at these vain terrors. At other times when 
they came, and scarcely expected to find him alive, 
they heard him cheerfully singing within, and repeat 
ing those words of the 67th Pslam : "Let God arise, 
and let h*s enemies be scattered : and let them that 
hate him flee from before his face ; as smoke vanisheth^ 


so let them vanish away : as wax melteth before ikt 
fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. 

At the end of the twenty years lie had spent with 
God in this solitude, Antony, yielding to the importu 
nity of the multitude that resorted to him, and were 
even ready to force their way into his habitation, 111010 
^specially as many of them desired to learn anu imi- 
v ate his manner of life, came forth, as it were out of 2 
heavenly sanctuary, with so serene a countenance, and 
such animation, strength and vigor in his whole per 
son, as attracted the admiration of all who saw him. 
And here God was pleased to work many miracles by 
him, in casting out devils from such as were possessed, 
and healing various diseases. The Saint took occa 
sion, at the same time, to make powerful exhortations 
to those that addressed themselves to him : he com 
forted the afflicted ; instructed the ignorant ; -recon 
ciled such as were at variance, and earnestly exhorted 
all to look to the welfare of their souls, and to prefer 
nothing before the love of Christ. He set before the 
eyes of his auditory the greatness of the good things 
to come in a happy eternity the infinite goodness and 
mercy of God the benefit he has conferred, and the 
love he bears towards mankind, particularly manifest 
ed in not sparing, but delivering up his own Son to 
death for the *Mvation of us all. By these and such 
like discourses, the Saint brought over a great number 
of his hearers to a contempt of all those things taat 


pass away wit j tii.Ne, and to an effectual resolution of 
dedicating the short remainder of the days of their 
mortality to the love and service of God, in a solitary 
and religious life. Thus, by degrees, the deserts and 
mountains began to be peopled with a number of holy 
feouls (all acknowledging Antony for their father, foun 
der, and master,) who, by the purity and sanctity of 
their lives, seemed to resemble so many angels in hu 
man bodies. They renounced all the honors, riches 
and pleasures of this world : or rather, exchanged 
them for others by far more great and solid even in 
this life, and for such as shall never end hereafter. 
They watched and prayed without ceasing ; they me 
ditated frequently on the word of (iod ; they sung 
his praises day and night ; they kept, in a manner, 
a continual fast ; they labored with their hands for 
their own suppoTt, and to have wherewith to supply 
the necessities of their indigent neighbors : in fine, 
they all lived in a holy union and perfect charity, with 
out murmurs or detractions, and felt no other ambition 
or strife, but who should excel his neighbor in all kind 
of Christian virtues : so that to behold this multitude 
of holy solitaries separated at a distance, both in place 
and manners, from the children of the world, in those 
vast deserts, and leading there such angelical lives, was 
enough to make any one cry out with Balaam, Numb. 
*xiv. How beautiful are thy tabernacles, Jacob^ 
and thy tents. Israel! As woody vallies, as 


id gardens near the rivers, as tabernacles which tht 
Lord hath pitched, &c. 

St. Athanasius sets down at largo an excellent dis 
burse which Antony delivered one day, by the desire, 
tnd for the instruction of his disciples, in which, (after 
earnestly exhorting them to such an unwearied fervoT 
and constancy m pursuit of their holy undertaking, as 
never to slacken their pace, but daily to renew their 
resolutions as if they were just now beginning, and to 
strive to advance by great strides towards religious 
perfection,) he puts them in mind, first of the short 
ness of the time of this mortal life, of the length of 
eternity, and how trivial those services are which God 
requires of us for the purchasing of eternal life : that 
all the labors and sufferings of this life shall shortly 
have an end, but that our reward shall continue for 
ever. Secondly, he would therefore not have their, 
imagine they had made any great sacrifice to God in 
parting with their estates, houses, or money, from 
which they must, whether they will or not, be in a 
short time separated by death : since what they were 
to receive in exchange from our Lord, would infinitely 
surpass in value the possession of the whole earth, and 
be theirs for all eternity. Thirdly, he inculcates to 
them, that a Christian ought never to fix his affection, 
or bestow his care upon any of those things which he 
rannot take along with him when he dies, but only on 
mch as may help him on his way to heaven, and there 


remain with him uuring eternity : such as true wis 
dom purity of soul and body Christian justice 
fortitude charity, and tranquillity of soul, by a vic 
tory over our passions : for these are the real goods 
of a Christian, which are alone worthy of his love. 
Fourthly, he puts them in mind, that they are strictly 
obliged, in consequence of their creation, to dedicate 
their whole lives to the service of that Lord who made 
them for this very end, that they should be his ser 
vants ; and who, by all manner of titles, has an indis 
putable n^ht to their service ; and that neither their 
past, nor present labors can exempt them from con 
tinuing therein till death ; so that if they would not 
lose their crown, they must resolve to labor to the end, 
relying always on the assistance of their good God, 
who never forsakes those who do not first forsake him. 
Fifthly, he recommends to them the remembrance of 
death ; the certainty thereof, as well as the uncertain 
ty of the hour in which we shall be called from hence 
of the judgment that is to follow after death, and 
of the eternity to come, as so many powerful restraints 
to preserve them from sin ; and as sovereign means to 
cure their sloth spur them on to the practices of vir 
tue wean their affections from transitory things, and 
teach them to tread under their feet the riches and 
pleasures of a world which \ve must so sudder 1 " ^af 
with. Sixthly, he tells them that the Greeks took 
great pains, and travelled into distant countries, in or- 


der to meet with masters from whom they might learn 
vain and empty sciences, such as were of no service to 
their souls in order to eternity : but that the Christian, 
in order to acquire true wisdom and the science of the 
saints, which conducts to eternal life, needed to go no 
farther than into his own soul : where he should, if he 
sought him by a spirit of recollection and prayer, find 
his true master, the kingdom of God, and with it all 
good. Seventhly, he exhorts them to fight in a par 
ticular manner against the tyranny, as he calls it, of 
the passion of anger, as a mortal evil and capital one- 
my of the justice of God ; and therefore he would 
have them to keep a constant guard upon their own 
hearts : the more so, because of the enemies that are 
continually waging war with Christians, but more es 
pecially against religious men and women : and who 
employ a thousand tricks and artifices to deceive the 
unwary. And here, as one that had long experience 
in this kind of warfare, he acquaints them with the 
different stratagems and manifold temptations by which 
these wicked spirits labor, without ceasing, to with 
draw religious souls from the service of God, and bring 
them back to the broad road of the world, and the 
ways of iniquity and sin : but for their comfort and 
encouragement, he assures them, that these enemies 
have no power over such as heartily resist and despise 
their suggestions : that Christ has triumphed ovei 
them by his death : and that a lively faith a purity 


nd sincerity in seeking him a diligence in the spirit 
ual exercises of watching, praying, fasting, &c. togeth 
er with the virtues of meekness, roluntary poverty, 
humility, contempt of vain-glory, and especially au ar 
dent devotion to Christ crucified, are weapons which 
all the powers of hell cannot withstand. By such lea 
sons as these, but more especially by the great exam 
pie of their master, the disciples of Antony were en 
coin-aged and spurred on to a daily progress in thft 
ways of Christian perfection. 

When the persecution, which had been first set on 
foot by Diocletian, and carried on with great fury by 
Maximinian Galerius, raged exceedingly in Egypt, 
where it crowned innumerable martyrs, many were led 
to Alexandria out of the country to be put to death 
jbr Christ. On this occasion Antony quitted his cell, 
to follow these that were going to become the victims 
of Christ : saying to his disciples, " let us go to the glo 
rious triumphs of our brethren, that we may either 
share with them in the fight, or at least be spectators 
of their conflict." He was in hopes of obtaining for 
himself the crown of martyrdom ; but could not de 
liver himself up, nor obtain permission to associate 
himself with the glorious confessors that were con 
demned to the mines or confined in the prisons. 
However, whenever any were brought before the 
Judge, he accompanied them into the court, arid with 
great liberty and diligence exhorted them to coustacj 


and perseverance ; and when they were sentenced to 
die, he rejoiced as much in their victory as if it had 
been his own, and failed not to accompany them to 
the place of execution, to be a witness of their happy 
triumph. The judge seeing the courage and zeal of 
Antony and his companions, published an order pro 
hibiting any of the monks to be present in court dur 
ing the trials of the Christians, and enjoining them all 
to depart from the city. Upon these orders the others 
absconded for that day ; but Antony, fearing nothing, 
washed his garments, and took the next opportunity 
to present himself in a more eminent place in sight 
of the judge, desiring nothing more than to suffer for 
Christ. But God was pleased to accept of his good 
will, and to reserve his servant for the benefit of innu 
merable souls. However, he continued assisting and 
encouraging the confessors of Christ upon all occa 
sions till the storm of the persecution was blown over, 
and then returned with new fervor to his former soli 
tude, where he redoubled his watchings and fastings, 
wearing always a garment of hair-cloth next to his 
skin, and never washing his body ; insomuch, that no 
one ever saw Antony naked during his life. 

And now he began again to shut himself up for a 
time in his cell, without admitting any one to come in 
to him. But still he could not prevent many from 
resorting to his door, nor even from remaining there 
the whole night, in order to seek a cure for their dif- 


ferent maladies, through the experience they had of 
the miracles that God frequently wrought by him ; so 
that partly to avoid the distractions occasioned by this 
concourse of people, and partly to fly the danger of 
vain-glory, he took the resolution to fly as far as the 
higher Thebais, where no man might know him. 
Wherefore, taking some bread with him, he went to 
the banks of the Nile, and there sat down, waiting for 
some boat that might pass that way. And here he 
heard a voice, saying to him, "Antonv, whither art 
thou going ? and to what end 1 " He, as one accus 
tomed to such colloquies, answered without fear : " Be 
cause the people will not suffer me to remain quiet, 
but require things _>! me that are out of the reach of 
my weakness, I have thought it best to go away to 
the higher Thebais. " If thou goest," said the voice, 
" to the place thou proposest, thou shalt endure a 
greater, yea, a double labor ; but if thou desirest to 
be quiet indeed, go thy way now to such a place," 
naming a mountain in the heart of the wilderness. 
"But who," said Antony, "shall show me the way? 
for there are no tracks or paths that lead thither, arid 
I know nothing of the country." He that spoke with 
him replied, that there were some Saracens or Arabians 
at hand, who were come into Egypt to trade, and that 
they would show him the way. Antony followed this 
heavenly direction, and going up to the Saracens, de 
sired they would take him along with them in their 

66 3T. ANTONY. 

journey through the desert : and after having travelled 
with him three days and three nights, he arrived at a 
very high mountain, the place appointed him by 
heaven, at the foot of which there was a spring of 
clear water, and in the adjacent field a few wild palm- 
trees. Here then he resolved to fix his abode, where 
he might live quiet separated from the conversation 
of men. As to his food, he contented himself with a 
little bread (which the Saracens, admiring his virtue, 
gave him at parting, or bestowed upon him afterwards 
when they passed that way,) and with the small pro 
vision of wild dates which the palms afforded him, till 
his brethren, having found out the place of his retreat, 
brought him necessaries from time to time. Antony, 
desirous to ease them of that trouble, having procured 
by their means some wheat, and a proper instrument 
for the purpose, found a little spot of ground wherein 
he sowed the wheat, which brought him a crop suffi 
cient for his use, to his great satisfaction at being thus 
enabled to live by the labor of his hands, without be 
coming troublesome to any one. He also cultivated 
a little garden with herbs, in order to entertain hie 
wearied brethren after their journey, when they came 
to visit him through the burning deserts. This spot 
of ground lay exposed to the beasts which resorted 
thither for the sake of tb-j spring, who did no small 
damage to Antony, bj feeding upon his herbs and 
corn: wherefore having caught one of thnrn, he said 


to them all : " Why do you this wrong to me, who do 
none to you ? Get ye gone : and, in the name of ths 
Lord, never come hither any more." From which 
time they were never after seen to come near that 

Whilst Antony remained here entertaining himself 
with God, the devils, his unwearied enemies, ceased 
not to wage perpetual war against him ; but he des 
pised all their efforts, and always triumphed over them, 
by his usual arms of a lively faith and fervent prayer. 
His disciples who came to visit him, and were some 
times witnesses of his conflicts relate, how they heard 
the tumultuous noise and voices of a numerous peo 
ple, with the rattling of arms, and had seen the whole 
mountain covered by a multitude ot devils, with Antony 
fighting against them, and putting them all to flight 
by his prayers. " It is indeed, worthy of admiration," 
says St. Athanasius, "that in so vast a wilderness one 
man alone should have stood his ground so long, 
without either apprehending the daily encounters he 
met with from wicked spirits, or yielding to the fury 
of so many wild beasts and serpents as swarm in those 
deserts. But it was with good reason that David 
sung, Psalm cxxiv. They that trust in the Lord shall 
be as mount Sion : he shall not be moved for ever 
for so Antony, by keeping hi*> miwd firm, quiet, ana 
immovable in God, put all the devils to flight, and tht 
beasts of the earth shall be at peace ivith thee" (Job 


v. 23.) and subject to him. One night whilst lie was 
watching in prayer, the devil brought such a multitude* 
of wild beasts together about him, that it seemed as 
if there were none left behind in the whole desert, all 
of whom, encompassed him on every side, with open 
jaws, threatened to tear him in pieces. The Saint un 
derstanding the artifice of the malignant spirit, said, 
unconcernedly : " If the Lord has given you any power 
over me, make use of it in devouring me ; but if you 
are brought hither by devils, depart instantly, for I am 
a servant of Christ." No sooner had he spoke these 
words but the whole multitude of wild beasts fled 
away, and left him alone to continue his devotion. 
One day whilst he was at work, according to his cus 
tom, making baskets, to exchange them for the provi 
sions which the brethren brought him, a monster pre 
sented itself before him, in the shape of half a man 
and half an ass ; having on this occasion made the 
sign of the cross, and said : " I am a servant of 
Christ if thou art sent to me, here am I ; I don t 
run away." At these words the monster instantly 
fled, and falling down in the midst of its flight, burst 
and was destroyed : to show all the attempts of 
Satan against Antony should in the end perish, and 
come to nothing. 

After some time the brethren prevailed on the man 
of God to come down from his mountain, in order to 
visit their monasteries. Now in their wav homeward 


through those burning deserts, the provision of wate? 
quite failed them ; and as none could be found, and 
the weather being violently hot, they were all in dan 
ger of perishing. Antony on this occasion had re 
course to prayer ; when, after withdrawing himself at 
a little distance from the company, and falling upcn 
his knees, he had implored, with his hands stretched 
forth to heaven, the mercy of the Lord, behold the 
tears which he then shed presently brought forth a 
spring of water out of the earth, with which they both 
refreshed their own thirst, saved the life of their camel, 
and filled their vessels for the remainder of their jour 
ney. The Saint who was received with great joy by 
all the religious, as their common father, conceived no 
less joy within himself, to see the fervor and resolution 
with which they all applied themselves to their spirit 
ual exercises. And that he might not seem to come 
to them from his mountain empty handed, he made 
them excellent exhortations in order to their spiritual 
progress. He had also the comfort to hear the agree 
able news, that his sister, whom he had left so young 
in the world, was now grown old in the profession of 
virginity, and was become mistress and superior of 
other holy virgins in a religious state of life. 

After some days, Antony returned again to hia 
mountain, where he again received more frequent vis 
its, as well from his own religious as from others, who, 
being possessed or obsessed by evil spirits, or afflicted 


with various infirmities, had recourse to his prayers foi 
their delivery ; on which occasion God wrought many 
miracles by him ; favoring him also with prophetic 
light, and other extraordinary graces and gifts. He 
exhorted all that came to see him to have a strong 
faith in Jesus Christ : to love him with their whole 
hearts; to keep their minds pure from all evil 
thoughts, and their bodies uncontaminated from all 
uncleanness ; not to suffer themselves to be imposed 
upon by gluttony ; to hate vain-glory ; to pray very 
O ften; to sing psalms to the divine praise every 
morning, noon, and night ; to meditate on the pre 
cepts of the word of God ; to have the great exam 
ple of the saints always before their eyes, in order to 
spur themselves on to the practice of all virtues ; not 
to let the sun go down upon your anger, Eph. iv. 26. 
which precept of the apostles he applied to all other 
Bins ; recommending to all to call themselves to a strict 
account by a daily examination of conscience, and tc 
repent and amend without delay whensoever they 
found themselves to have failed in any thing. He 
added, that if they did not discover any guilt in them- 
lelves, they must not therefore be puffed up with self- 
conceit, or presume to justify themselves, and despise 
others ; but rather fear, least self-love should blind and 
deceive them ; remembering that an all-seeing God is 
to be their judge ; that his judgments are very dif 
ferent from those of men ; and that there is, accord 

ar:. ANTONY. 71 

rng to the wise man, Prov. xiv. 12. a ivay which seem- 
eth just to a man : but the ends thereof lead to 

One day, about the ninth hour, viz. about three of 
the clock in the afternoon, when he had begun his 
prayers before the taking of his meal, he was seized 
with a rapt or ecstacy in which he saw himself in 
spirit carried up aloft by angels, whilst the demons o* 
the air, opposing his passage, alledged against him the 
sins of his younger days, even from his very child 
hood ; and when the angels replied, that these sins, 
by the mercy of Christ, had been forgiven, they bid 
them to charge him, if they could, with any material 
sin he had committed since he had consecrated him 
self to God in a religious state of life. Accordingly 
these lying spirits having forged many false accusa 
tions against him which they could not prove, they 
were therefore forced to leave the passage free for him. 
Upon this Antony returned to himself, but so greatly 
affected with what he had seen, as well as with the 
dreadful and dangerous conflict a poor soul has to pass 
through with these princes of darkness, that he forgot 
his food, and spent the remainder of the day, as well 
as the whole night, in sighs and lamentations, at con 
sidering the dangers from these wicked spirits, that 
threaten the souls of men both in life and death, which 
thoughtless mortals nevertheless so little apprehend, 
One night, whilst his disciples had been questioning 

72 S*T. ANTONY. 

him concerning the state of souls immediately aftei 
death, he was called upon by a voice saying, " Anto 
ny arise, go out, and see." He arose, and went out, 
and looking up towards heaven, he saw a spectre of a 
monstrous height and dreadful aspect, whose head 
reached the clouds : he saw also persons with wings 
that sought to fly up to heaven, and he perceived that 
the monster, with outstretched hands, strove to stop 
them in their passage : some of whom he caught and 
cast down to the earth, but could not prevent the rest 
from flying above his reach, or of mounting up to hea 
ven. By this vision he was given to understand, that 
the devil had power to stop the flight of those depart 
ing souls who were in sin, but that he had no power 
over pure and holy souls, nor could prevent their fly 
ing up to heaven. These visions Antony related to 
his disciples : not out of ostentation or vain-glory, be 
ing always averse to attributing any thing to himself, 
or suffering any thing to be ascribed to him, but 
merely for their instruction and edification. 

As to the rest, no one could be more meek, patient, 
or humble than Antony. He entertained a particular 
respect aiid veneration for all the clergy ; giving even 
to the lowest clerk in minor orders, the preference be 
fore himself, and even bowing down his head before 
bishops and priests, to crave their benediction. Al 
though he had so great a mastery over himself in 
spirituals, and was so divinely taught, yet he was 


never ashamed to seek instruction, not only from the 
clerks that came to visit him, but even from his own 
disciples ; and whatsoever good he heard from any 
one, he humbly and thankfully acknowledged himself 
assisted thereby. Among other gifts with which he 
was favored by our Lord, he was particularly remark 
able for an admirable grace that showed itself in his 
countenance, which distinguished him in such a man 
ner from all the rest of the holy inhabitants of the 
deserts, that any stranger who came to visit him, 
though he happened to be in the company of a multi 
tude of other monks, leaving all others would be sure 
to run up to him : as if the purity of his soul had 
shone forth from his very face, which was -always mo 
destly cheerful and amiable, and never altered eitheh 
by prosperity or adversity. However, he would have 
no communication with schismatics or heretics ; but 
exhorted all that came near him, to fly their danger 
ous conversation and impious doctrines. He had a 
particular horror for the blasphemies of the Arians, 
whom he considered as the forerunners of Antichrist. 
He even quitted for a while his solitude, at the desire 
of Athanasius and the catholic bishops, to go to Alex 
andria to confute their wicked assertions ; where, by 
his doctrine and miracles, he not only effectually con 
futed the heretics, and confirmed the catholics in thei 
faith, but also brought over a great number of iiifideL 
to the Christian religion. The heathen philosophers 


also came often to dispute with him about religion, 
imagining they could easily entangle a man so entirely 
illiterate, and an utter stranger to all human science? 
as Antony was known to be, with their captious rea 
soning and learned sophistry ; but they were surprised 
beyond conception to rind with what depth of wisdom 
he answered all their objections, and proved the truth 
of the Christian religion in a manner to which they 
knew not what reply to make, and even confirm it with 
miracles wrought in their presence. 

The reputation of Antony s sanctity and heavenly 
wisdom was not confined to Egypt : it spread itself 
far and near through a great part of the then known 
world : it even reached the imperial court, insomuch 
that the emperor Constantino the Great, and his sons 
Constan and Constantious, wrote several times to him, 
and bested that he would favor them with an answer. 


As for his part, he made very little account of this 
honor, and told his disciples that they were not to 
think it much that an emperor, who was no more than 
a mortal man, should write to him ; but rather ought 
to admire and bear always in mind, that the eternal 
God had been so good as not only to write his law for 
man, but to send down his only Son to deliver his 
ttord to them. However, at the desire of all the 
brethren, he returned them an answer, in which, after 
congratulating with them for their believing in and 
worshipping Christ, he gave them wholesome instruc- 

8T. ANTONY. 75 

tions for the welfare of their souls ; advising them not 
co make any c,Teat account of their worldly grandeur 
and power, nor of any of those things that pass away 
with time, and never to forget that they were mortals, 
wiio must quickly appear before another iudo-e. He 
also put them in mind of their obligation of showing 
clemency to their subjects, of rendering them justice, 
and of succouring the poor and distressed ; and they 
must remember that the true and everlasting king of 
all ages is Jesus Christ alone. 

After Antony had finished the business that brought 
him to Alexandria, he hastened back to his cell on the 
mountain, and to his usual exercises and austerities. 
For he used to say, that a religious man conversing 
with seculars out of his monastery was like a fish out 
of water, which is in danger of perishing, except it 
quickly be restored again to its element ; and there 
fore, as to his part, he would never come out of his 
solitude, but when some work of great charity obliged 
him. However, he willingly received those seculars 
that came to him, and entertained them with heavenly 
discourses ; exhorting them to look beyond this world, 
and to labor for a happinees that shall have no end : 
and such was the unction and efficacy which God gave 
to his words, that many were moved by his exhorta 
tions to give up their honors, their riches, and all their 
worldly expectations, in order to dedicate themselves 
eternally to the same happy service in which they saw 


him engaged. He seemed to have been given to the 
land of Egypt by our Lord, as an excellent physiciar 
to heal all their spiritual diseases : for whoever came 
to him in his troubles and temptations found a sensi 
ble benefit in his conversation ; if he came with sor 
row, he returned with joy ; if he came with rancour 
in his heart against his neighbor, he returned with dis 
positions of peace and charity ; if he came oppressed 
with the sense of his poverty and distress, he returned 
with the contempt of this world, a willingness to 
take up the cross, and to wear the livery of Jesus 
Christ. The lukewarm learnt from him to be fervent 
in the service of God ; nay, the very libertines return 
ed from him with a desire of embracing a chaste and 
penitential life : for such was the gift he had of dis 
cerning spirits, that he seemed to read in the faces of 
all, the interior dispositions and state of their souls, 
and accordingly accommodated his instructions and 
prescriptions to the nature and quality of their disor 
ders. Nor was this benefit confined to Egypt alone : 
for as the fame of Antony had reached all parts of the 
world, so men came from all parts to see him, and no 
one visited him without fruit : no one ever complain 
ed that he had lost his labor in coming to see him, 
how long or difficult soever his journey might have 

The multitude who went to see him did not inter 
rupt his interior attention to God any more than hia 

ST. ACTONS . 77 

daily labors, which he sanctified with mental prayer. 
Oftentimes whilst he was walking or sitting with his 
visitors, he was ravished out of himself, so as to re 
main for a long time insensible ; at which time many 
secrets were revealed to him. Once in particular he 
beheld a vision in his ecstacy, by which he was admon 
ished two years before it happened of the cruel havoc 
the Arians would make in the church of Alexandria : 
which, when he returned to himself, he related with 
many sighs and tears to those that were with him ; 
but then added for their comfort, that this storm would 
quickly blow over, and that the church should again 
be restored to her former lustre. This persecution 
was raised against the church of Alexandria, when the 
Arians, having procured the banishment of St. Atha- 
nasius, introduced one Gregory, a man of their faction, 
to ba the bishop in his place : upon which occasion 
Balacius, an Arian, the commander of the troops, par 
ticularly exerted himself in persecuting the faithful ; 
which he did with so much rigor, that he ordered even 
the sacred virgins, and the religious men to be public 
ly scourged, as if they had been the vilest malefactors. 
St. Antony wrote a letter to him to deter him join 
this cruelty, to this effect : " I see the wrath of God 
coming upon thee : cease to persecute the Chris lans, 
lest that wrath should overtake thee which a ^a iy 
threatens thee with approaching destruction." Ihe 
unhappy man slighted the warning of the Saint, and 


spitting upon the letter, flung it down upon the ground ; 
then after having abused the persons that brought it, 
bid them go tell Antony, that he should serve him also 
in the same manner as he had done these monks for 
whom he interested himself. But not many days passed 
before the vengeance of God overtook the wretch, when, 
as he was riding out to a place in the neighborhood, 
in the company of Nestorious the governor, one of his 
own horses, who was before remarkably gentle and 
quiet, with a sudden bite brought him down to the 
ground, and standing over him, knawed and tore his 
thighs in so terrible a manner, that he died within 
three days. 

And now the time drew near when Antony, now 
about one hundred and five years of age, should ex 
change his mortal pilgrimage for a happy immortality. 
He went, according to his custom, to visit his brethren 
that dwelt in the nearer desert, signifying to them that 
his dissolution was at hand, and that this was the last 
time they should see him. These words drew tears 
from their eyes : they all embraced him as their pa 
rent about to depart from them into another woild. 
They would have detained him with them, desiring to 
be present at his death. To this he would not con 
sent ; but after having given them his last instructions, 
he strongly exhorted them to fervor and perseverance 
in their holy institute, and to constancy in the catholic 
faith ; showing the utmost joy that he was now shortly 

ST. AN10NY. 79 

lo depart from this place of banishment to, his true 
and everlasting home ; and taking his last farewell of 
them he hastened back to his mountain. A few 
months afterwards, finding his death to draw near, he 
sailed the two disciples, (who for the last fifteen years 
of his life had their cells in his neighborhood) and said 
to them : " My children, I am now going, according 
to the expression of the Scripture, the way of my 
fathers : for now the Lord calls for me : I long now 
to see the heavenly mansions. But as for you, my 
dearly beloved, I admonish you to beware lest you 
lose on a sudden the labor of so long a time ; but 
every day consider yourselves if you had but that day 
entered upon a religious life, and the strength of your 
purpose shall daily increase. You know the various 
artifices of the devils ; you have also seen their furious 
assaults, and how weak and cowardly they are. Re 
tain an ardent love for Jesus, let the faith of his name 
be strongly fixed in your mind ; a strong faith in Jesus 
will put all the devils to flight. Remember also the 
lessons I have given you, and the uncertain condition 
of this mortal life, which may be cut off any day ; 
and make no doubt but the heavenly mansions shall 
be your portion. Avoid the poison of schismatics and 
heretics, and follow my example in keeping them at a 
distance, because they are enemies of Christ. Make 
it your principal care to keep the commandments of 
the Lord, that so after your death the saints of God 


may receive you as their friends and acquaintance into 
the eternal tabernacles." He added, as his last re 
quest, that they should bury his body privately, and 
let no man know the place ; lest the Egyptians, accord 
ing to their custom, should take it up to embalm it, 
and keep it as they did their mummies. " As to my 
garments, (said he) give my sheep-skin, and this old 
cloak which I lie upon, to bishop Athanasius, who 
brought it me new ; let bishop Serapion, another gen 
erous defender of the faith, have my other sheep-skin ; 
and keep my garment of hair-cloth for yourselves : so 
fare you well, my children, for Antony is departing, 
and shall remain no longer with you in this world." 

When he had made an ed of speaking, as his dis 
ciples were kissing him, he drew up his feet a little, 
and met death with a joyful countenance, (anno 356) 
breathing out his pure soul into the hands of the an 
gels, who were there ready to receive him, and carry 
him to the happy regions of eternal bliss. His disci 
ples buried him privately, as he had desired : " And 
his legatee, says St. Athanasius, (speaking of himself) 
u who had the happiness to receive by the orders of 
blessed Antony, his old cloak and his sheep skin, em 
braces Antony, in his gifts, as if he had been enriched 
by him with a large inheritance ; he rejoices in the 
garments, which present before the eyes of his soul 
the image of his sanctity." The same holy doctor of 
the Church and champion of the faith, wrote the life 


of St. Antony, from his own knowledge of him, and 
from the testimonies of his disciples, which we have 
here abridged, and which was then and has been ever 
since received, embraced, and admired in all parts of 
the world, by every well-wisher to Christian piety, for 
the important lessons it contains. The share it had in 
bringing the conversion of the great, St. Augustine to 
a happy conclusion, is too remarkable to be passed 
over in silence. 

The Saint relates in his Confessions (lib. 8. ch. 6.) 
how, whilst he was yet struggling under the load of 
those wicked habits, which he could not resolve effec 
tually to cast off, he was one day visited by Pontitia- 
nus, one that belonged to the emperor s court, but a 
good Christian, who introduced a discourse " concern 
ing Antony, a monk of Egypt, whose name, says St. 
Augustine, speaking to God, was exceeding illustrious 
among thy servants, but to that hour unknown to us : 
which he perceiving dwelt the longer upon that sub 
ject, informing us of the life of so great a man, and 
wondering that we had heard nothing of him. We 
were astonished (speaking of himself and his friend 
Alipius) to hear of thy miracles so very well attested, 
done so lately, and almost in our days, in the true 
faith, and in the catholic church : and indeed we all 
wondered ; we, that they were so great, and he, that 
they were unknown to us. Thence he changed his 
discourse to the societies of monasteries and to the!/ 

82 8T. ANTONY. 

manner of life, yielding a sweet odor to thee, and to 
the fruitful breasts of those barren deserts ; of all 
which we had heard nothing, although there was then 
without the walls of Milan a convent full of good 
brothers, under the care of Ambrose, and yet we knew 
it not. He proceeded in his discourse, to which wo 
listened with a silent attention, and related how upon 
a certain time, whilst the court was at Triers, and the 
emperor was one afternoon entertained with the sports 
of the circus, he and three of his companions went out 
a walking among the gardens, near the walls of the 
city, and there, as it happened, going two and two 
together, one with him took one way, and the other 
two another; and that these two, as they were wander 
ing about, lighted upon a certain cottage, where some 
servants of thine dwelt, poor in spirit, for theirs is the 
kingdom of heaven, (Matt, v.) and there they found a 
book, containing the life of Antony, which one of them 
began to read, to admire, and be inflamed with : and 
whilst he was reading, he began to think of embracing 
the same kind of life, and of quitting his worldly office 
in the emperor s court to become thy servant. Then 
being suddenly filled with divine love, a wholesome 
shame, and anger at himself, he cast his eyes upon his 
friend, and said : Tell me, I beseech thee, with all the 
pains we take in this world, whither would our ambi 
tion aspire to ? what do we seek ? what is/it we pro 
pose to ouiselves in this employment? can we eve* 


hope for any greater honor at court than to arrive at 
the friendship and favor of the emperor ? and there 
what is to be found there, that is not brittle and fuJ!I 
of dangers ? and through how many dangers must we 
ascend to this greater danger ? and how long will this 
continue ? But the friend and favorite of God, I may, 
if I please, become now presently, and remain so for 
ever. Having said this, and laboring as it were in tra 
vail of a new life, he again cast his eyes on the book, 
and continuing to read, was changed where thou saw- 
est, and his mind totally stripped of the world, as soon 
appeared : for whilst he was reading, the waves of his 
heart, rolling to and fro, cast forth some sighs and 
groans, till at length he concluded and resolved upon 
better things ; and being now wholly thine, he said to 
his friend : Now I have entirely bid adieu to our for 
mer hope, and am fully resolved on being a servant 01 
God, and upon beginning to be so from this hour and 
in this place. If thou be not willing to do the same, 
do not at least offer to oppose my resolution. The 
other replied : That he would stick by him as a com 
panion in the service of so great a Master, and for such 
immense wages. By this time Pontitiantis and his 
companion, who were seeking after them, came to the 
same placg ; and having found them, reminded them 
of returning home, because the day was far spent. 
But they acquainting them with their determination, 
s well as with the manner in which they had taken 


this resolution, and were confirmed in it, requested 
that if they did not choose to join with them, they 
would at least give them no disturbance. Whereupon 
being nothing altered from what they were before, 
they nevertheless bewailed themselves, and after 
piously congratulating them, and recommending them 
selves to their prayers, with hearts weighed down 
wards towards the earth, they returned to the palace, 
whilst the other two, with hearts elevated to heaven, 
continued in the cottage : both of them were con 
tracted to young ladies, who as soon as they heard 
their resolution, consecrated in like manner their vir 
ginity to thee. These things were related to us by 
Pontitianus," concludes St. Augustine, who declares 
in the following chapter, the wonderful effects this dis 
course had upon him ; and how, as soon as Pontitia 
nus was gone, he set upon Alipius, and exclaimed : 
" What is this we suffer ? what is this tlio. . hast been 
hearing ? .the unlettered rise up and seize heaven by 
force : and whilst with all our learning we, remaining 
without courage or heart, still wallow in the flesh and 
blood. Are we ashamed to follow them, because they 
have got the start, and are gone before us? But 
ought we not to be still more ashamed, if we do not 
so much as follow ? " With these words he hurried 
himself away into the garden, where, after a strong 
conflict, he was at length fully converted, by taking 
up, by the admonition of a voice from heaven, the 


epistles of St. Paul, and reading there the sentence 
that first occurred, Rom. xiii. 13, 14. Not in rioting 
and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities^ 
not in contention and envy ; but put ye on the Lord 
Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in 
its concupiscences. 


From his Life written by St. Jerome. 

HILARION was born at a village called ThaHtha, five 
miles from the city of Gaza, in Palestine, of infidel 
parents, who sent him, when very young, to study at 
Alexandria, where he gave proofs of an excellent ge 
nius for his age, and of his good dispositions to virtue. 
Here he embraced the faith of Christ, and young as 
he was, could find no pleasure either in theatrical 
shows, incentives to lust, or any other worldly diver 
sions, but delighted only in frequenting the church, 
and in religious exercises. Hearing of the fame of 
St. Antony, he went to visit him in the desert, and put 
off his secular habit, in order to embrace the ?aine 
institute. He remained with the Saint about two 
months, making it his study to observe and learn per 
fectly the whole order and method of his life ;- his 


continual prayer his humility his charity his mor 
tification and all his other virtues. Then returning 


into his own country with some other religious men, 
and finding that his parents were dead, he distributed 
his whole substance between his brethren and the 
poor, without reserving anything for himself, bearing 
in mind that saying of our Lord : He that doth not 
renounce all that he posscsseth, cannot be my disciple, 
Luke xiv. 33. Thus stript of the world, and armed 
with Christ, being only in his sixteenth year, he took 
the resolution of retiring into the wilderness (which 
lies on the left of the road that leads from Gaza into 
Egypt), without apprehending the dangers which his 
worldy friends objected, from the robberies and mur 
ders for which that place was infamous ; but rather 
despising a temporal death, that he might escape that 
which is eternal ; nor regarding the tenderness of his 
own constitution, which made him very sensible of 
cold, heat, and other injuries of the weather, and of 
Uje. hardships and austerities that are incident to that 
kind of life which he was going to undertake. 

On going into the desert, he took no other clothing 
with him than the frock of a peasant, a sackcloth and 
hair-cloth, with a leathern habit to wear over it, which 
St. Antony had given him. Here he built himself a 
little hut, covered with sedges and rushes, to modify 
the inclemency of the weather, which served him from 
the sixteenth to the twentieth year of his age, and af- 


terwards in a cell, which, according to St. Jerome s 
account, who had seen it, was but four feet wide, five 
feet high, and in length but a little longer than his 
body, so that as he could not stand in it upright, it 
seemed rather a tomb for a dead corpse, than a dwell 
ing for a living man. Here his diet was suitable to 
his lodging : his food for the first years being but fif 
teen dry figs in the day, and that not till after sunset. 
Afterwards, from the twenty-first to the twenty-seventh 
year of his age, he took only about eight or ten ounces 
of lentiles, steeped in cold water, or a little dry bread, 
with salt and water. For the space of three or four 
years more, he lived upon nothing but the wild herbs, 
or roots of the shrubs of the wilderness. From the 
thirty-first till the thirty-fifth year of his age ho con 
fined himself to six ounces of barley bread per day, 
and a few pot-herbs without oil ; which rule he contin 
ued to observe to his sixty-third year, when he began 
to allow himself a little oil with his herbs, but tasted 
nothing else, either of fruit or of pulse, or of any other 
kind of food. From that time, as he now supposed 
that by course of nature he could not have long to 
live, instead of relaxing in his austerities, he redoubled 
them ; so that from the sixty-fourth year of his age 
till his death, that is, till he was eighty years old, he 
totally abstained from bread, and eat nothing, during 
the forr and twenty hours, but a kind of m ,ss com 
posed of meal and herbs, which served him both fo 


meat and drink : and this in so small a quantity, that 
his whole daily sustenance did not weigh above five 
ounces. Such was his austerity, with respect to his 
food, that, throughout these different periods Df life, he 
ever observed it as a constant rule, never to eat or 
drink till after sun-set, how weak soever his health 
might be, not even on the greatest solemnities. 

Hilarion had no sooner, in imitation of his great 
model and master St. Antony, entered upon this course 
of life in a vast and frightful desert, where no man 
before had ventured to dwell, and, like him, applied 
himself incessantly to God in prayer, than the devil, 
not bearing to see himself thus trodden under foot by 
a young man, began to assault him with violent tempt 
ations of the flesh, filling his mind with impure imag 
inations, and inciting him by sensual allurements, to 
carnal pleasures, of which before he had no concep 
tion. The chaste youth perfectly abhorred himself, 
when he perceived these abominable emotions to lust 
in his body and mind. He struck his breast, as if he 
meant by this exterior violence to put those lewd sug 
gestions to flight: he condemned himself to longer, 
and still more rigorous fasts and hard labor, saying 
thus to himself : " thou little jack -ass, I will teach thee 
to kick ; instead of corn thou shalt feed only on 
straw ; I will tame thy courage with hunger and 
thirst : I will lay heavy burthens upon thee : I will 
make thee work both iii summer and winter, that in 


stead of wanton pleasures thou mayest think of thy 
meat." The Saint was steadfast in his resolution : 
fasting without intermission, sometimes for three or 
four days together, and then taking only a little juice 
of herbs and a few figs for his meal : incessantly pray 
ing, singing psalms, and working at the same time, 
either in digging the earth or in making baskets, till 
at length, by these exercises, he reduced his body to 
a mere skeleton. Wherefore the enemy perceiving he 
could not prevail this way, began to trouble him with 
fantastic apparitions and other temptations. One 
eight he was on a sudden surprised with hearing the 
crying as it were of children, the bleating of sheep, 
the bellowing of oxen, the lamentations of women, 
the roaring of lions, and the confused noise of an 
army of barbarians, with strange and frightful voices. 
Suspecting them to be nothing but diabolical illusions, 
he armed himself with the sign of the cross, and with 
a lively faith, cast himself down upon the ground, to 
be the better enabled, in this humble posture, to en 
counter the proud enemy. Then looking forward, it 
being a clear moon-light night, he perceived, as it 
were, a coach, drawn by furious horses, coming with a 
violent gallop towards him : at the sight of which he 
called upon the name of Jesus, when behold on a 
sudden the whole fantastic scene sunk down iuto the 
earth before his eyes : upon which he burst forth the 
praises of his Deliverer. At several other times this 


indefatigable enemy sought various ways, both by day 
and night, to molest him : either by exhibiting naked 
figures to excite him to concupiscence, or by seeking 
to interrupt his devotion and distract him at prayer by 
a variety of either comic or tragic scenes : but riono 
of these, or any other of his attempts, were able to 
shake the resolution of the servant of God, or prevent 
his perpetual application to the love and service of his 
Maker. One day whilst he was praying with his head 
fixed on the ground, it happened that his mind wan 
dered on some other thoughts, the watchful enemy, 
taking advantage of this distraction, jumped upon his 
back, as if to ride upon him ; and whipping and spur 
ring, cried out : " "What, art thou asleep ? Thou a 
saint ! come shall I give thee some provender ? " But 
this, like the rest of his vain efforts, only served to 
excite the Saint to still more vigilance and fervor. 

About the eighteenth year of his age, the robbers 
that frequented the desert, took it in their heads to 
pay him a visit ; expecting either to find something 
in his hut to take away, or looking upon it as a rash 
attempt in a single boy to venture to dwell alone in 
their dominions, and not be afraid of them. They 
therefore began their search after him in the evening, 
and continued it till the sun-rising, without being able 
to find his lodging: but meeting him at day-light, 
they asked him as it were in jest, " what he would do 
if he were visited by robbers ? " " Oh I " said he, " *o 

8T. HILARIO?:. 91 

that has nothing to lose fears no robbers." " Bat," 
said they, "perhaps they may kill thee." "True," 
said he, " but I do not dread death : and therefore am 
not afraid of them, because I am prepared to die." 
Amazed at his constancy and faith, they acknowledged 
that having sought him during the night, they were 
so blinded as not to be able to find him; and so 
deeply were they affected with his words, that they 
promised to amend their lives. 

Hilarion had now spent twenty-two years in perfect 
solitude in the wilderness, conversing only with God 
and his angels, and only known to the world by the 
fame of his sanctity, which was spread over all Pales 
tine, when a certain woman of the city of Eleuthero- 
polis, who had lived fifteen years in the state of wed 
lock without bearing a child, finding herself despised 
by her husband on account of her barrenness, ventured 
to break in upon his solitude ; and coming unexpect 
edly upon him, cast herself upon her knees before him, 
saying : " Pardon my boldness ; pity my distress : 
why do you turn away your eyes from me 1 Why 
do you flee from your petitioner ? Do not look at me 
as a woman, but as a distressed fellow-creature. Re 
member that a womat brought forth the Saviour of 
the world : those that are well stand not in need of a 
physician, but they that are ill." At these words ho 
stood still ; and having learnt of her, the first womaia 
he had seen since his retiring into the deser*, tha 


cause of her grief, he lifted up his eyes towards hea 
ven, bid her be of good heart, and weeping for her, 
sent her away ; but behold, within a twelvemonth she 
returned, bringing her son with her to visit him. 
This, his first miracle, was followed by a greater. 
When Aristeneta, the wife of Elpidius, a Christian no 
bleman (who was afterwards advanced to one of the 
first posts in the empire), was on her return from 
Egypt, where she had been, with her husband and her 
three sons, to see St. Antony ; she stopped at Gaza on 
account of the illness of her children, who were all 
seized by a semitertian fever, and brought so low that 
their lives were despaired of by the physicians. The 
disconsolate mother, hearing of the sanctity of Hila- 
rion, whose wilderness was not far distant from Gaza, 
went in haste to visit him, accompanied by some of 
her servants, and thus addressed herself to him : " I 
beg of thee for God s sake : for the sake of Jesus our 
most merciful God ; through his cross and his blood ; 
that thou wouldst vouchsafe to come and restore 
health to my three sons, that the name of the Lord 
our Saviour may be glorified in that pagan city : that 
when his servant comes into Gaza, Manias (the idol 
which they there worship) may fall to the ground." 
The man of God excused himself, alledging, that he 
rever went out of his cell, not so much as into any 
village, much less into a populous city ; but she, caste 
ing herself down upon the ground, ceased not to im 


portime him with many tears ; often crying out, " O 
Hilarion ! thou blessed servant of God, restore to me 
my sons : Antony has laid his hands upon them in 
Egypt, but do thou save their lives in Syria." Her 
earnest entreaties at length obliged him to promise 
her that he would come to Gaza after sun-set. No 
sooner had he arrived at their lodgings, and seen them 
confined to their beds in burning fevers, bereft of sense, 
than he called upon our Lord Jesus, when immedi 
ately a copious sweat, issuing as it were from three 
fountains, followed his prayer, and in the space of an 
hour they took their meat, knew their mournful mo 
ther, blessed God, and kissed the hands of the Saint 
No sooner was this miracle published abroad, than 
multitudes of the inhabitants of both Syria and Egypt 
began to visit him. Many infidels were by his means 
converted to the faith of Christ, and many also, by his 
example, embraced a monastic life ; for, before his 
time, there were neither monks nor monasteries in 
Palestine or Syria : he must therefore be considerec 
the father, founder, and first teacher of the monastic 
institute in those provinces. And now it was that he 
began to be joined by many disciples, whom he train 
ed up to religious perfection, who were witnesses of the 
wonderful miracles that God wrought by him. St. 
Jerome, as one perfectly well informed, has recorded 
several of the most remarkable, with all their circum 
stances, A woman of the neighborhood of lihinoco- 


rura (a city on the confines of Egypt,) who had been 
blind for ten years, was brought to the Saint to be 
healed : after having told him that she had expended 
her whole substance on physicians, " you had done 
better (said he) if you had given it to the poor ; you 
would then have given it to Jesus Christ, the true 
physician, who would have healed you." She earn 
estly begged that he would have pity on her ; and 
he, with spitting on her eyes, restored her to her sight. 
A charioteer of Gaza was also brought to him on his 
bed, struck in such a manner by the devil, that he 
could not stir any of the members of his body except 
his tongue, with which he besought the servant of 
God to heal him. The Saint told him, that if he de 
sired to be healed, he must first believe in Jesus Christ, 
and promise to renounce a profession which exposed 
him to the immediate occasion of sin. To these con 
ditions he agreed, and having received his cure, he 
returned home, rejoicing more for the health of his 
soul, than for that of his body. 

Marsitas, a young man of the territory of Jerusalem, 
of an extraordinary bulk and strength, who had been 
possessed by an evil spirit, and done much mischief to 
many, was dragged by ropes to the cell of the servant 
of God, like a mad bull bound in chains. The breth 
ren at the very sight of him were affrighted, but the 
faint bid the people bring him up and let him loose ; 
which when they had done, he commanded him to 


Dend down his head and come to him. The poor 
man trembling bent his neck, when laying aside all 
his fierceness, and falling down he licked the feet of 
the man of God ; and after seven days exorcisms was 
entirely cured. Another man, named Orion, a princi 
pal citizen of Aila, a city near the Red Sea, who waa 
possessed by a whole legion of devils, was* brought in 
like manner loaded with chains to the Saint, who hap 
pened at that time to be walking with his disciples, 
and interpreting to them some passages of the Scrip 
ture : when behold the possessed man broke loose 
from those that held him, and running up to the man 
of God, whose back was turned towards him, lifted him 
up from the ground on high in his arms : at which all 
that were present cried out, apprehending that lie 
would do the Saint some mischief; but Hilarion said, 
Broiling, "suffer me to wrestle with my antagonist." 
Then putting back his hand, he laid hold on the hair 
of Orion, and bringing him before his feet, kept him 
down howling, and turning back his neck, so as to 
touch the ground with the top of his head. Then 
praying, he said : " O Lord Jesus, I am a poor wretch ; 
do thou release this captive ; thou canst as easily over- 
xrnie many as one." On this occasion they were all 
astonished to hear so many different voices issuing 
from the mouth of the possessed person, and a con- 
fased out-cry, as it were of a whole people : but their 
vender ceased when they saw the multitude of wicked 


spirits that was expelled from him :>y the prayers of 
the humble servant of God. Orion came shortly after 
wards with his wife and children to return thanks to 
the Saint, and brought him large pre^e -ts out of gra 
titude, which he absolutely refused to accept : but 
when he besought him with tears to take at least what 


he had brought, and to give it to the poor, he an 
swered ; " thou canst better distribute thyself what 
thou wouldst have to be given to the poor ; for thou 
frequentest cities, and knowest the poor ; why should 
I, who have left my own, covet the goods of others ? 
Many have been imposed upon by avarice, under the 
name of the poor. Do not make thyself uneasy ; it is 
for both thy sake and mine I refuse thy presents : for 
if I should accept of them, I should offend God, and 
the legion of devils would return to thee." 

One Italicus, a Christian of Mamma, the haven of 
Gaza, who bred horses for the public races that were 
to be exhibited at Gaza, came to the Saint to beg his 
prayers against the enchantments wherewith his pagan 
antagonist, one of the magistrates of the city, had be 
witched his horses. Hilarion, who disliked all these 
public games, was unwilling to employ his prayers on 
so vain an occasion. But the other representing to 
him that it was not by his own choice, but by his 
office, he was obliged to do what he did ; and that 
the honor of God and religion was here at stake, be 
cause the men of Gaza, who, for the most part, were 

ST. HILARIOtf. 97 

infidels, would take occasion, from bis being worsted, 
to insult., not so much over him as over the church 
of Christ : the Saint, at the request of the brethren, 
ordered his earthen pot, in which he used to drink, to 
be filled with water, and given to him. Italicus took 
the water, and with it sprinkled his stable, his horses, 
his chariot, and his drivers, in the sight of the pagans, 
who made a jest of it, whilst the Christians, confiding 
in the prayers of the Saint, made no doubt of success. 
Wherefore, as soon as the signal was given, the horses 
of Italicus sprung forth with incredible speed, whilst 
those of his adversary were presently distanced, and 
could scarce keep within sight of them that were gone 
before. Upon this a loud cry of all the people were 
immediately raised, and even the very adversaries 
cried out, that Marna,s, the God of Gaza, was worsted 
by Christ. This miracle gave occasion to the conver 
sion of many. 

There was also in the same town of Maiuma, a vir 
gin dedicated to God, with whom a young man in the 
neighborhood was vehemently in love. After having 
employed, without success, flattering speeches, idle 
jokes, and other freedoms, which too often pave the 
way to greater crimes, he went to Memphis in Egypt, 
to seek a remedy for his wound from the priests of 
Esculapius. They furnished him with certain magical 
spells and monstrous figures, graven upon a plate of 
copper, which he buried under the threshold of the 


house where the i.iaid dwelt, when behold immediately 
(in punishment of her having laid herself too open to 
the enemy, by not flying, as she ought, or not resist 
ing former freedoms) the maid ran mad with love, 
tearing off her head clothes, whirling about her hair, 
gnashing with her teeth, and calling upon the name 
of the young man. Her parents, therefore, took her 
to St. Hilarion, when presently it appeared how the 
case stood ; for the devil began to howl within her, 
and to cry out : " I was forced in hither ; I was brought 
from Memphis against my will : where I succeeded 
well, in deluding men with dreams. But, oh ! what 
torments dost thou make me suffer here ! Thou com- 
pellest me to depart, but behold I am bound fast, and 
kept in by the thread and plate that lie under the 
threshold. I cannot go out till the young man who 
keeps me here, lets me go." " Thou art very strong 
indeed ! " said the Saint, " if thou art held by a thread 
and a plate. But tell me, how didst thou dare to 
enter into a maid dedicated to God ! " " It was," said 
he, " to preserve her virginity." " What ! thou pre 
serve her virginity," said the Saint, "who art the 
mortal enemy of chastity. Why didst thou not rather 
enter into him that sent thee ? " " Oh," said the devil, 
u there was no necessity for my entering into him, who 
was already possessed by my comrade, the demon of 
wanton love." The Saint would hear no more, nor 
send for the young min, not order the things men- 


tioned to be taken away, to show the little regard that 
is to be had to the devil s speeches or signs, but in 
stantly delivered the maid from her wicked guest, and 
sent her away perfectly cured, after severely reprehend 
ing her for admitting of those liberties which had given 
the devil the power to possess her. 

It would be endless to recount all the other mira 
cles that God wrought by this Saint, which rendered 
his name illustrious, even in the most remote provinces. 
St. Antony himself, hearing of his life and conversa 
tion, wrote to him, and gladly received letters from 
him ; and when any diseased came to him for their 
cure from any part of Syria, he blamed them for giv 
ing themselves the trouble to come so far, since you 
have, said he, in those parts my son Hilarion. His 
bright example attracted great numbers to the ser 
vice of God, so that now there were innumerable mon 
asteries, or cells of religious, throughout Palestine, 
who all looked upon him as their father, and resorted 
to him for then- direction. These he exhorted to at 
tend to their spiritual progress ; ever reminding them, 
44 that the figure of this world passeth away, and that 
eternal life can only be purchased by parting with the 
pleasures and affections of this life." He visited all 
their monasteries once a year for their instri ction and 
edification : and such was his diligence and charity on 
these occasions, that he would not pass by the cell of 
the icast or meanest of the brethren without calling 


in to instruct and console him, insomuch that ho went 
as far as the desert of Kadesli, on purpose to visit one 
single monk who dwelt there. In this journey he 
was accompanied by a great number of his disciples 
into the city of Elusa, on the confines of the Saracens, 
on a festival day, when the people were all assembled 
in the temple of Venus, who was there worshipped 
by the Saracens on account of the star that bears her 
name. No sooner had they heard that Hilarion, of 
whose sanctity and miracles they had been previously 
informed by several of their nation whom he had de 
livered from evil spirits, was passing by, but all the 
men, women, and children ran out in crowds to meet 
him and to beg his blessing. The Saint received 
them all with the utmost tenderness and humility, and 
begged that they would henceforth worship the living 
God, rather than stocks and stones : shedding at the 
same time many tears, and looking up towards heaven, 
he promised, if they would believe in Christ, that he 
would frequently come to see them. So wonderful 
was the grace that accompanied the words and pray 
ers of the man of God, that they would not suffer 
him to quit their city, till he had first marked out a 
plot of ground for the building of a church ; nay, 
their very priest had received the sign of the cross of 
Christ, in order to his baptism. 

Another year, when the Saint was making his visit 
ation, a little before the time of the vintage, he cam< 


with all his companions to the monastery of one of the 
brethren, who was remarkable for being a niggardly 
miser. This man had a vineyard, and apprehending 
lest the multitude of the monks that accompanied the 
Sain 1 should eat up his grapes, he set several men to 
keep them off with stones and clods in slings, and 
would not so much as let them taste of them. The 
servant of God smiled at the treatment they had met 
with, but taking no notice of it to the niggard, he 
went on the next day to another monastery, where he 
and his whole company were kindly received by a 
monk named Sabas, who kindly invited them (it being 
the Lord s day,) to go and feast themselves in his 
vineyard. The Saint ordered that they should first 
take the food of their souls, by applying themselves to 
their religious exercises of prayer, singing psalms, and 
paying their duty to God : and then after giving them 
his blessing, he sent the whole multitude of his disci 
ples to the vineyard to take their corporal refection. 
The blessing of the man of God was attended with so 
miraculous an effect, that whereas the vineyard of Sa 
bas was not before thought capable of yielding more 
than a hundred gallons of wine, it yielded that yeai 
three hundred, whilst the vineyard of the niggard 
yielded much less than usual, and the little that it 
produced turned into vinegar, a circumstance which 
the man of God had foretold. Hilarion could never 
endure in religious men any thing that looked like 


covetousness, or too great an affection to any of these 
things that pass away with this transitory world : he 
was moreover endowed by God with the gift of dis 
covering who were addicted to this, that, or any other 
kind of vice, by the stench that proceeded from their 
bodies or garments. 

And now the Saint, seeing that his hermitage was 
converted into a great monastery, ana chat the wilder 
ness about him was continually crowded with the 
people who resorted thither, bringing their diseased, 
or such as were possessed with unclean spirits, and that 
not only the common sort of people from all the neigh 
boring provinces, but even the gentry, ladies of the 
first rank, clerks, monks, priests, and bishops, were 
daily visiting him, and interrupting his devotions, he 
bitterly regretted the loss of his former solitude, per 
petually lamenting, weeping, and saying, that since he 
had returned back into the world, he apprehended he 
should have his reward in this life, because all Pales 
tine and the neighboring provinces took him to be 
somebody, <fec., nor did he cease to mourn and bewail 
his condition, till he took a fixed resolution to quit his 
monastery, and retire into some place where he might 
be unknown, and more freely enjoy his God without 
the interruption of so many visits. In the mean time, 
whilst he was meditating upon his flight, the lady 
Aristeneta, whose three sons he had cured, came to 
aee him, acquainting him with her design of returning 


into Egypt, to make a second visit to St. Antony. Ha 
replied, with tears in his eyes, that he could have wish 
ed to have taken the same journey, if he were not 
kept prisoner in his monastery, but that it was now 
f oo late to find Antony alive ; for, said he, two days 
go the world was deprived of so great a father. 
Having believed him, she did not proceed in her jour 
ney, and, behold, after some days the news of his 
death was brought from Egypt. When it was known 
abroad that the man of God was upon the point oi 
quitting Palestine, the whole province took the alarm, 
and no less than ten thousand people, of all degrees 
and conditions, were gathered together, in order to 
stop and detain him. But his resolution was not to 
be altered ; and as he had learnt by revelation the 
havock that the infidels of Gaza were about to make 
in his monastery, and all through that neighborhood, 
under the reign of Julian the Apostate, he gave them 
broad hints of this his fore-knowledge, saying, that he 
could not call in question the truth of what God had 
said ; nor could he endure to see the churches des 
troyed, the altars of Christ trodden under foot, and 
his children massacred. In short, he assured them be 
would neither eat nor drink till they let him go. 
And thus, after he had fasted seven days, they wer<3 
contented at last to sufter him depart, accompanied by 
about forty of his monks. With these he made the 
best of his way it Pelusium, (now called Damietta) in 


Egypt, and after visiting the holy solitaries who lived 
in the neighboring deserts, he waited upon Dracontius 
and Philo ; two illustrious confessors of Christ, of the 
number of .those catholic prelates who had been ban 
ished from their sees by the fury of the Arians, under 
the emperor Constantius. After paying these visits, 
he hastened to keep the anniversary day of the happy 
decease of St. Antony in the place where he died: 
and being conducted by the deacon Baisanes, upon 
dromedaries, three days journey through that vast and 
dreary wilderness, he arrived at length at the moun 
tain of the Saint. Here he found his two disciples, 
who showed him all the places where their master had 
been accustomed to sing psalms to pray to work 
and sit down to rest himself, after being wearied with 
his labor ; as also the garden he had cultivated the 
trees he had planted the instrument with which he 
had dug the earth the private cells to which he often 
retired towards the top of the mountain, &c. and then 
agreeably entertained him with divers particulars of 
the acts of the latter part of St. Antony s life. Hila- 
rion was much moved to devotion with the sight and 
recital of all this ; and after watching in prayer the 
whole night of the anniversary of the Saint, he return 
ed the same way he came, through the dreary wilder 
ness to the neighborhood of the town called Aphrodi- 
Ion. Here, in an adjoining desert, with two of his 
disciples whom he kept with him, he led so abste- 


mious, abstracted, and silent a life, that on feeling the 
fervor he now found within himself, he seemed never 
to have before begun to serve Christ in earnest. 

He had not been above two years in this wilder 
ness, when the fame of his sanctity brought all the 
people of the neighboring country to him, to beg his 
prayers for rain. For from the time of the death of 
St. Antony, no rain had fallen upon their land for the 
space of three whole years, so that being afflicted with 
a great famine, they resorted to him, whom they con 
sidered as the successor of St. Antony, for a redress of 
their misery. Moved to pity by the sight of their dis 
tress, he lifted up his hands and eyes to heaven to pray 
for them, and his prayer was immediately followed by 
plentiful rains. But the rains, whilst they fertilized 
the earth, having, in falling on the dry, hot sand, also 
produced an incredible multitude of venomous reptiles 
and insects, with which innumerable persons were 
struck, they were again forced to have recourse to the 
Saint, who gave them some oil which he had blessed, 
with which they were cured. But now finding him 
self after these miracles greatly honored, he would stay 
no longer in this place, but departed in order to go and 
hide himself in the desert of Oasis. In his way thither 
he passed through Alexandria : and as he made it a 
rule never to lodge in any city, he went on to a place 
in the neighborhood, called Bruchium, where there 
was a monastery of the servants of God. From hence, 


when night drew on, he hastened away, telling the 
brethren, who were greatly afflicted, that they should 
soon know the reason of his sudden departure. Ac 
cordingly, on the next day their monastery was 
searched by the Gazites, accompanied by officers sent 
from the governor of Alexandria to apprehend Hila- 
rion, of whose arrival there they had received intelli 
gence. For the infidels of Gaza, who bore a mortal 
hatred to the Saint, as soon as Julian came to the em 
pire, destroyed his monastery, and obtained an edict 
from the tyrant, that both he, and his disciple Hesy- 
chius, should be sought for and put to death wherever 
they were found. Of this the Saint had a fore-know 
ledge by prophetic light, and thereupon withdrew 
himself : so that the infidels, who had thought them 
selves certain of seizing their priest, finding he was 
gone, departed, saying to each other, that now the^ 
were sure he was a magician, and had a foresight of 
things to come. 

He had not been a year in the wilderness of Oasis, 
before he found that fame had also followed him 
thither ; and therefore now despairing to be able to 
conceal himself upon the continent, he formed a reso 
lution of seeking out a place in some of the islands 
of the Mediterranean, where he might hide himself. 
In order to this he embarked, with one only disciple, 
at Paretonium, a haven on the coast of Lybia, on 
board a vessel bound for Sicily ; hoping that hence- 


forward no one should know him, or become trouble- 
some to him in his retirement. When, behold, in the 
midst of the voyage the son of the master of the ship, 
or rather the devil by his mouth, cried out : " Hila- 
rion, thou servant of God, let me alone, at least till we 
come to land ; how comes it to pass, that even at sea 
thou art still persecuting us." The Saint would hare 
disguised the grace which God had given him, fearing 
lest the sailors and passengers should publish his fame 
when they came to land, and therefore mildly replied : 
" If my God permits thee to stay, stay if thou wilt ; 
but if he cast thee out, /vhat hast thou to do to com 
plain of me, who am bur. a poor beggar and a sinful 
man." However, v.pon the solemn promise of the 
father, and of all the rest, that they would not discover 
him, he cast the devil out of the boy. Wben they 
arrived at Pachynum (now Capo Passaro), he would 
have paid for the passage of himself and his compan 
ion, by gHng the captain the book of the Gospels, 
which was all his wealth, but he, seeing their poverty, 
would not receive it. Wherefore the Saint leaving the 
sea-coast, withdrew himself into a little kind of wilder 
ness, about twenty miles within the land, and there 
fixed his abode ; living upon what little he could get, 
by making up faggots, which his companion carried to 
a neighboring village, bringing from thence in exchange 
*riat they stood need of for their food. 
But the Saint could not long lie concealed here ; foi 


soon after his arrival, a man possessed with an evil spirit, 
being under the exorcisms of the Church at St. Peter s 
in Eome, the devil cried out thus by his mouth: 
" Hilarion, the servant of Christ, is some days since 
come into Sicily, where no man knows him, and he 
thinks himself secret : but I will go and discover him." 
This man therefore taking some of his servants with 
him, and going on board a ship sailed immediately 
for Sicily ; and after coming to shore, being conducted 
by the devil, he went straight to the hut of the ser 
vant of God, and there casting himself at his feet, was 
perfectly cured. This being noised abroad, great mul 
titudes, who labored under various corporeal diseases, 
resorted to him to obtain their cure ; whilst numbers 
also of devout and religious people applied to him for 
their spiritual profit. Amongst the rest, he cured 
upon the spot one of the principal men of the island, 
who was swollen up with the dropsy, and who on the 
same day, returned home in perfect health. This man 
offered to make him considerable presents, which the 
Saint absolutely refused, al lodging the precept of our 
Saviour, Matt. x. 8. Gratis you have received, gratis 
give: which rule he invariably observed in all the 
other innumerable miracles which he wrought, whether 
in Sicily or elsewhere, for, he never would receive any 
thing, no not &o much as a morsel of bread from any 
one of those on whom he had wrought those miracles. 
And now his beloved disciple Hesychius, after hav- 


ing sought after him in vain through many different 
regions came at length to Sicily, upon the report he 
had heard at Modon in Greece, from a Jewish pedlar, 
that a Christian prophet had appeared in Sicily, who 
wrought all kinds of wonderful miracles. No sooner 
had he found him than the Saint gave him to under 
stand, that he wanted to depart from Sicily into some 
strange country where he might be utterly unknown. 
Wherefore, in compliance with his desire, he conveyed 
him away by a ship to the coast of Dalmatia, where 
for a short time he led a solitary life, not far from the 
city of Epidaurus, now called Ragusa. But neither 
here could he remain long concealed, his miracles every 
where betraying him. There was at that time, in the 
neighborhood of Epidaurus, a monstrous serpent, of 
that species named boas, which did great, mischief in 
destroying both men and cattle; the Saint, ; to put a 
stop to this calamity ordered the country, people to 
heap up a pile of wood, and after addressing a prayer 
to Christ he called the serpent out, of hi$ ,.den, and 
tommanded him to go on the top of the, pile, pf wood, 
and then setting fire to it, hei bu-rnt the^ monster in 
sight of a great multitude of people. This miracle 
was followed by another still greater. About this 
time, viz. the second year of the reign of Valentinian 
the first, there happened so remarkable an earthquake 
that, according to Amianus, a cotemporary historian, 
its like was never recorded, either in authentic or fab- 


u ous history. On this occasion, the swelling seas, in 
several places, broke in arid overflowed the land in 
such a manner as to threaten the earth with a second 
deluge, and in some places the waves ran so high as 
to carry the shirs along with them, and leave them 
hanging on the cliffs. The Epidaurians perceiving the 
danger in which their city as well as many others 
were in of being destroyed, had recourse to Hilarion, 
and opposed him to the mountains of water that were 
just upon the point of overwhelming them. No 
sooner had the Saint made three crosses on the sand, 
and lifted up his arms to heaven, than the swelling 
waves, though they raged, foamed, and rose up to an 
incredible height, not able to advance, gradually re 
turned back again and subsided. This wonder, says 
St. Jerome, who was then a boy in the same province, 
the city of Epidaurus, as well as the whole country, 
recount to this day the mothers relate it to their 
children, in order to transmit the memory of it fo 

The applause that followed these miracles would 
not suffer the humble servant of Christ to remain any 
longer in Dalmatia ; therefore taking boat privately by 
night he fled away, and within two days found a ship 
departing for Cyprus, on which he embarked. In this 
voyage his ship being pursued by some pirates in two 
light vessels, there appeared no hopes of escaping 
them. The ship s crew being in the utmost conster- 


nation, the Saint turning to his disciples said : " Why 
are you afraid, O ye of little faith? " And wlen the 
pirates were now come within a stone s cast of the 
ship, he stood on the fore-deck, and stretching out 
his hand to them, he said : " You have come far 
enough / " when behold immediately their vessels fell 
back, and the more they tugged and rowed, in order 
to push forward towards their expected prey, the more 
rapidly were they carried away from it. The Saint land- 
id at Paphos, a noted city of Cyprus, and chose him 
self a dwelling place about two miles from thence ; 
being now wonderfully pleased that he had found rest, 
at least for a short time, in this solitude ; but scarcely 
had twenty days elapsed when the devils in different 
parts of the island published his arrival by the mouths 
of those that were possessed ; and several of these, 
both men and women, hastened to him and were de 
livered. Here he remained about two years meditat 
ing upon some private place of retirement. In the 
mean time he sent Hesychius into Palestine, to salute 
the brethren there, and to visit the ashes of his mon 
astery ; and upon his return proposed that they should 
sail into Egypt, and advance a great way into the 
country, to some place, inhabited only by pagans. But 
Hesychius opposed thio ; and after a long search, dis 
covered a place in the island about twelve miles dis 
tant from the sea, amongst mountains and woods that 
were almost inaccessible, which proved quite to his 


mind. In this solitude, to which no one could arrive 
in several places but by creeping on hands and knees, 
they found springs of water on the sides of the hills, 
a little garden within, with several fruit trees, of which 
however the Saint would never eat, and near the gar 
den the ruins of an ancient templs, from whence, as 
both he and his disciples related, were often heard, both 
night and day, a great noise, like the voices of a whole 
army of devils. In this solitary abode the man of 
God dwelt for the last five years of his mortal life> sel 
dom visited by any one but Hesychius, on account of 
the difficulty of coming at his dwelling, as also because 
the people were persuaded that the neighborhood was 
haunted with a multitude of demons. However, there 
were some that ventured to come to him for the cure 
of their maladies ; their necessities overcoming all dif 
ficulties, especially after it was known, that he had 
cured upon the spot, the bailiff of the place of a palsy, 
which had deprived him of the use of his limbs, by 
only stretching out his hand to him, and lifting him 
up with these words : In the name of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, rise up and walk. 

But now the time arrived which was to put a period 
to all the labors of his mortal pilgrimage, and unite 
him eternally to his God, when being now eighty years 
old he was seized with his last illness. Although 
Hvsychius was then absent, he nevertheless bequeath 
ed to him by will all he had, viz. his book of the gos- 


pels, his sackcloth, cowl, and habit. Many religious 
men from Paphos came tc attend him in his sickness, 
who had heard of his having said, " that he was now 
going to our Lord;" and with them a holy woman 
named Constantia, whose daughter and son-in-law he 
had delivered from death by anointing them with oil. 
And now he was drawing near his end, when in the 
very agony of death he distinctly spoke these words : 
" Go forth my soul : what art thou afraid of? Go 
forth, why art thou at a stand ? Thou hast served 
Christ almost seventy years, and art thou afraid to 
die ? " and with these words he gave up the ghost. 
He was immediately buried as he had desired, in the 
same place : where the devout lady Constantia fre 
quently passed whole nights in prayer at his sepulchre, 
speaking with him as if he were alive, and desiring 
the assistance of his prayers. His disciple Hesychius, 
after ten months, privately conveyed his body away to 
Palestine, where it was solemnly interred in his own 
monastery; at which time it was found entirely incor 
rupt, and sending forth a most fragrant odor. Many 
great miracles were daily wrought through his inter 
cession, even to the time when St. Jerome published 
his life, as well at his sepulchre in Palestine, as at tha 
place where he was first buried in Cyprus. 

114 ST. MALCHU8* 


Abridged frora St. Jerome. 

WHILST St. Jerome in his younger days made some 
stay at Maronia, a village of Syria, about thirty miles 
distant from Antioch, he learnt that there dwelt in 
that neighborhood a religious man, now advanced in 
years, whose name was Malchus, and near him a de 
crepit old woman, both eminent servants of God, con 
stant in the church, and wholly addicted to the exer 
cises of religion : of whom the neighbors published 
wonderful things and extolled their sanctity to the 
skies, which gave occasion to St. Jerome, in order to 
his own justification, to visit that holy man, and to 
learn from his own mouth the particulars of his histo 
ry ; which he afterwards published to the world in a 
small book, of which the following is an abstract. 

Malchus was a native of the territory of Nisibis, a 
city of Mesopotamia, upon the confines of the Roman 
and Persian empires. Being the only child of his pa 
rents they looked upon him as the heir and support 
of their family, and therefore, when he was grown up, 
they pressed him to marry ; but declaring himself 
quite averse to this state of life, he made known to 
them his desire of entering into religion, and of wholly 
dedicating himself to God. But as they ceased not 


t-till to importune him, both with flatteries and threats 
to part with the treasure of his virginal purity, which 
he valued above all the possessions of the world, in 
order to rid himself of their importunities, and to se 
cure his treasure, he took a resolution to withdraw 
himself entirely from house and home, parents and 
country. Accordingly, taking a trifling matter with 
him for his journey, he travelled westward, till at 
length he arrived at the desert of Chalcis in Syria. 
Here he found some servants of God leading a mo 
nastic life, and put himself under their direction, fol 
lowing the same institute as they did, living by the 
labor of his hands, and restraining the rebellions of 
flesh by rigorous fasting. In this course of life he con 
tinued for many years, till the common enemy, envy 
ing the progress he made in virtue, suggested to him, 
under specious pretexts, to leave the monastery, and 
to return to his own country to see whether his mother 
were yet alive (for he had heard of his father s death), 
and if she were, to comfort her in her widowhood, and 
after her decease to sell the estate, distribute part of 
the money to the poor, employ another part in build 
ing a monastery, and to reserve what remained for his 
own use ; a design which he afterwards lamented, as 
a grievous transgression and infidelity to his religious 

His Abbot was no sooner informed of his purposes, 
cban he remonstrated with him, in the strongest terms. 


that the whole was a temptation of the devil, who, by 
such plausible pretences as these, had oftentimes im 
posed upon religious men, and drawn them back again 
into the world ; alledging also several examples from 
Scripture, of the wiles and impostures of this wicked 
old serpent. When the abbot saw r that his remon 
strances were not hearkened to, he even cast himself 
down upon his knees, and earnestly entreated his dis 
ciple not to abandon him, nor fling himself away, nor 
to look back after setting his hand to the plough. 
But all in vain : Malchus imagined that his superior, 
in seeking to detain him, had more an eye to his own 
comfort and satisfaction, than to his advantage, and 
therefore would not be diverted from his design. 
When he set out upon his journey, his abbot follow 
ed him out of the monastery, bewailing him, as if he 
had been following his corpse to the grave ; and at 
their last parting told him plainly, that the sheep 
which had left the fold must expect nothing but to 
fail an immediate prey to the wolves. 

In his journey he was to go from Beroea to Edessa, 
by a road which borders upon an extensive wilderness, 
much infested by parties of the Saracens or Arabians, 
who ro\bed or carried off all they met with. This 
obliged the travellers who passed that way, to travel 
in large companies for their mutual defence ; and it 
happened that there were at this time no less than 
about three-score and ten persons in company with 


Malchus, young and old, men and women. But this 
precaution could not secure the fugitive, who was run 
ning away from his Lord, from being overtaken, or 
from meeting with captivity and slavery, instead of 
the possessions to which he imagined himself return 
ing. For behold a party of armed Saracens, some on 
horseback, others upon camels rushed suddenly upon 
them, made them prisoners, and then, by lot, divided 
their captives amongst them. Malchus happened to 
fall into the hands of the same master with a married 
woman, one of the company, whose husband fell to 
the lot of another : and both he, and the rest of the 
prisoners, now slaves, being set upon camels, were car 
ried for many days through an immense wilderness, 
living in the mean time upon meat half raw and cam 
els milk ; till having passed over a great river, they 
came into the heart of the country. Here Malchus 
and his fellow captive were brought in, and being pre 
sented to their master s wife, were obliged, according 
to the manner of the custom of the country, to pros 
trate themselves and do reverence to their new mis 
tress and her children. And now, instead of his mo 
nastic habit, or any other clothing, Malchus is obliged 
to go naked, as well on account of his condition of a 
slave, as by the violent heat reflected bv the sun-beams 
on those Arabian sands, which would not suffer him 
to wear any other covering than what modesty indis 
pensably required. His office was to tend his mas- 


ter s sheep in the wilderness ; in which it was his 
comfort to be generally alone, seldom seeing either 
his master, or any of his fellow-servants. He pleased 
himself also with the thought, that in his way of life 
he resembled some of the ancient Saints who had in 
like manner fed sheep in the wilderness. In the mean 
time his whole diet was new cheese and milk, and his 
whole employment continual prayer and singing of the 
psalms which he had learnt by heart in the monastery. 
He now became delighted with his captivity, and gave 
thanks to God for the wonderful dispositions of his 
merciful providence, in conducting him to find the 
monk again in the land of his slavery, which he was 
going to lose for ever in his own country. 

The devil, who could not endure to be a witness to 
the great advantages our captive made of his present 
condition, by the help of his solitude, recollection, and 
continual prayer, contrived a dangerous stratagem for 
the robbing him at once both of his chastity and all 
his other virtues, which he sought to bring about in 
the following manner : The Saracen, finding that his 
flock increased under the hands of Malchus, that he 
served him honestly and with fidelity, took it into his 
head, doubtless by the suggestion of the enemy, to re 
ward him, and as it were, to fix him for ever in his 
service, by giving him the same married woman for a 
wife who was taken captive with him : this he pro 
posed as an aci of friendship, or a favor which he was 


desirous to confer on him. But when Malchus re 
plied that this could not be, because he was a Chris 
tian, and therefore could not, by the law of God, marry 
a woman whose husband was still living, the barba 
rian, in a rage, drew his sword, and would have in 
stantly killed him upon the spot, had he not hastened 
to take his fellow-captive by the arm, which his mas 
ter mistook for a token of his consent to the marriage. 
When night arrived they went both together with a 
heavy heart into a ruinous cave, which served Malchus 
fot- his lodging, neither of them knowing the disposi 
tions of the other. Here Malchus casting himself 
upon the ground, grievously lamented his wretched 
condition, that after having in his younger days for 
saken all his worldly pretensions, together with his 
country, parents, and estate, purely to preserve his vir 
ginity, he should now in a more advanced age, lose it 
in so illegal and wicked a manner : accusing himself 
withal of his sins, especially of his crime in quitting 
his monastery to return to his own country, to which 
he imputed his being now caught in this labyrinth, 
out of which he knew not how to extricate himself 
but by death : and this he was strongly inclined to 
choose, as the only means remaining, as he thought, 
to preserve his virtue. His fellow-captive, perceiving 
the excessive trouble and agitation of mind under 
which he lay, and hearing him talk of making himself 
a martyr of chastity, cast herself at his feet, and beg 


ged, for the sake of Jesus Christ, that he would not 
think of doing himself any harm ; that, for her part, 
she abhorred the proposed marriage as much as him 
self, and would rather suffer death than consent to any 
unchastity : but why may we not live together, said 
she, as brother and sister, in perfect purity, whilst ou. 
master and mistress take us for man and wife ? These 
words calmed the soul of Malchus, and made him 
esteem and admire the virtue of the woman, and love 
her the more ; but, according to God, with a holy 
friendship, cemented by heavenly charity. 

Pursuant to this proposal, they lived a long time 
together, in perfect chastity of mind and body, and 
were beloved by their master and mistress, who enter 
tained not the least suspicion, either of their not being 
married, nor of any danger of their making their es 
cape : so that Malchus was accustomed to be absent 
with his flock for a whole month together in the wil 
derness, at a great distance from his master s house. 
One day, whilst he was sitting alone, he began to con 
sider the great advantages of a spiritual life that are 
found in well ordered religious communities : remem 
bering in particular the helps and directions he had 
/eceived from the good abbot, his ghostly father, and 
regretted his leaving him : when behold, in the midst 
of his meditation, he perceives at a little distance a 
hillock of ants (a creature ] roposed to us by the wise 
man as a pattern of industry and wisdom), and was 


pleased to see the order and harmony which they ob 
served in their labors that mutual help which they 
gave to each other, and how they ran to the assistance 
of such as fell under their burthens. This seemed to 
him a lively representation of a regular community ; 
and joined to his foregoing considerations made him 
begin to be weary of his captivity, and long to return 
to his a&bot and his monastery. When he came 
home at night, the woman perceived him to be pen 
sive and melancholy, and having learnt the reason, 
persuaded him to set off, offering at the same time to 
accompany him. Having concluded upon so doing, 
and watching a proper opportunity, he killed two large 
goats of his flock, made vessels of their skins, and pre 
pared part of the meat to support them during their 
journey. On the next evening they set out, making 
the best of their way to a river about ten miles dis 
tant, which they crossed by the help of the vessels 
they had made of the skins of the goats. In crossing 
the river they lost some part of the meat they had 
carried with them, so that what remained was scarce 
sufficient to support them for three days, and as to 
drink, th ey took plenty of water, not knowing when 
they should meet with more. 

They made what haste they possibly could through 
the sandy deserts, looking back from time to time, 
with fear and trembling, to see if any one were in pur 
suit of them, travelling mostly by night, as well to 


avoid the meeting with any of the Saracen rovers, as 
on account of the excessive heat. They had been no\v 
three days upon their journey, when looking behind 
them ; they saw at a distance two men riding on cam 
els, and hastening towards them, one of whom they 
concluded to be their master, who had discovered the 
way they had gone by their tracks in the sands, and 
now they expected nothing but certain death. There 
happening to be a den or cave at hand that reached 3 
considerable way under ground, they ran thither for 
shelter ; but fearing the serpents and other venomous 
creatures that usually resort to such places in order to 
avoid the heat of the sun, they would not venture to 
penetrate to the further end, lest in flying from death 
i i one shape, they should meet it in another. Where- 
f<. re discovering within, near the entrance of the den, 
a hole on their left hand, into which they had no 
so-jner trusted themselves, when behold their master, 
with one of their fellow servants, tracing them by their 
footsteps, quickly came up to the mouth of the cav 
ern. The master having sent his servant in to drag 
them out, stood without, holding the camels, and wait 
ing for them with his drawn sword. The servant 
passed bv the hole where they lay concealed, without 
being able to see them, on account of his being just 
come out of the light, and advancing forward made a 
great uproar, crying aloud: "Come forward, ye vti 


tains and receive your wages: come out, your mastei 
calls for you : come out, and die." Malchus and his 
companion saw him pass by tbem, and looking after 
him, perceived a lioness, roused by the noise, flying at 
him, and strangling him, and then drawing his bloody 
body further into the den. The master, ignorant of 
what had happened, finding that the servant did not 
come out, supposed that they, being two, might make 
resistance against one. lie came therefore in a great 
rage to the entrance of the ouve, with his sword in his 
hand, and raving at the cowardice of his servant, bejjan 
to enter in ; but before he had passed the lurking hole 
where Malchus lay, he was suddenly seized by the 
beast before their eyes, and served in the same man 
ner as his servant had been. Thus by an extraordin 
ary providence were these servants of God delivered 
from the hands of those that sought their life : but 
they remained still in dread lest they should meet 
with no less cruel death from the furious beast that 
was so near them. In this fear they remained close, 
without making the least motion or noise, having no 
other means of defence or dependence but the provi 
dence of God, and a good conscience in point of chas 
tity, which is respected even by lions. But it was not 
long before the lioness, finding herself discovered, and 
disturbed in her den, taking up her whelp (for si 3 had 
but cue), carried it out with her teeth, in ordei to ga 


,ind seek for another lodging, and thus abandoned th 
whole cave to themselves. The apprehension, how 
ever, of meeting with the beast, kept them close pris 
oners till the evening, when they ventured out, and 
found the two camels (who were of the kind which 
for their great swiftness are called dromedaries), and 
with them fresh provisions, of which they were in 
great need : and thus, after refreshing themselves with 
food, they mounted upon the camels, and continued 
their journey through the desert, and on the tenth day 
arrived at the Roman camp, on the confines of the 
empire. The commanding officer, after having heard 
their history, sent them to Sabinianus, the governor 
of Mesopotamia, who gave them the price of their 
camels, and so dismissed them. 

And now Malchus would have returned to his good 
father, the abbot of his monastery, in the desert of 
Chalsis : but being informed that he was gone to sleep 
in the Lord, he turned his course towards Maronia, 
and there associated himself with the monks of that 
place : and as to his companion, he committed her to 
the care of the nuns that were there ; ever loving her 
as if she had been, his sister, as he told St. Jerome, 
yet never trusting himself to her as a sister, or expos 
ing himself to danger by any familiarity with her. 
Here, as St. Jerome concludes his narration, we cannot 
pretend to add any further particulars of the acts of 
this servant of God, only that he continued to the end 


the saintly life he had begun, and crowned it with a 
happy death ; so that he has deserved to have hia 
name recorded amongst the Saints of the Roman Mar 
tyrology, October 21. 


Abridged from the Life of St. Pachomius, by an artcieDt 
writer, who had his information from the companions 
and disciples of the Saint. 

ST. PACHOMIUS was born in Thebais, or the higher 
Eo-ypt, about the year 292, of infidel parents, who 
carried him, when as yet a child, to the temples of 
their idols, to make him a partaker of their impious 
sacrifices ; but as a presage of what he was one day 
to be, when they gave him a little of the wine of the 
devil s libations, or drink offerings, to taste, he present 
ly cast it up again ; and when upon another solemn 
occasion he had accompanied them to celebrate the 
festival of an idol that was worshipped upon the banks 
of the Nile, the devil was restrained, by his presence, 
from returning answers, and deluding the people with 
his usual tricks, till by the mouth of the priest he had 
ordered Pachomius to le sent away as an enemy of 
the gods. Yet all this while he was totally ignorant 


of tlie christian religion, but otherwise led a very mor 
al life, and was always modest, temperate, and chaste. 
When about twenty years old, Constantino being 
then emperor, he was, with many other of his coun 
trymen, impressed for the service, on account of a war 
just then breaking out. The young recruits were put 
on shipboard, in order to pass down the Nile, and so 
to be carried to the army. In their way they arrived 
at a certain city, where they found the inhabitants re 
markably officious in administering all the comfort 
and assistance in their power to some young men, who 
were kept close confined by their officers, and in great 
distress. Pachomius enquired who these men were 
that showed so much humanity and benevolence to the 
afflicted and distressed ? On being told they were 
Christians, a set of men who made it their business to 
do good to all men, and especially to strangers in dis 
tress, he further enquired what was meant by the name 
of Christians, and what were their tenets ? They told 
him they were godly and religious people who believed 
in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, and exercised 
themselves in all the virtues and works of charity, in 
expectation of an eternal reward from God in another 
life. Pachomius was touched with this account, and 
being visited by the divine grace, withdrew himself 
into a corner, and lifting up his hands and heart to 
heaven, he called upon the great God, who made 
heaven and earth, to enlighten his soul with the 


knowledge of the true and perfect rule of life which 
he would have him to follow ; and promised, if he 
would deliver him from his present bondage, that he 
would yield himself up to his divine service during the 
remainder of his life, and quit all worldly hopes, to 
adhere to him alone. The emperor having shortly 
afterwards obtained a complete victory over his ene 
mies, and put an end to the war, ordered the new 
raised troops to be discharged. Pachomius having 
now recovered his wished-for liberty, returned to his 
own country, and presently enrolled himself in the 
number of those that were under instructions in order 
to receive baptism, and being baptised shortly after 
wards in the church of the town of Chinoboscium, he 
was on the following night favored with a heavenly 
vision, which strongly moved him to consecrate the 
residue of his life to divine love. 

In obedience to this call, he repaired immediately to 
Palemon, a holy anchoret, who led a recluse life in a 
neighboring desert, with a desire of putting himself 
under his conduct and direction, and of spending the 
remainder of his life with him. This servant of God, 
who led a very austere life, at first refused him admit 
tance, alledging, that several others had in like man 
ner pretended to put themselves under his discipline^ 
but became quickly tired of his way of life. Pacho 
mius requested tli-at lie would at least put him to the 
trial, for that he trusted God would enable him to ex- 


ecute all that he should require of him. My son," 
said Palemon, " the way of life that I follow is not the 
easiest. I eat nothing but bread and salt, and wholly 
refrain from oil and wine. I watch one half the night ; 
employing that time in solemn prayer, and in meditat- 
:ng on the word of God ; and sometimes I pass the 
whole night without sleep." Pachomius replied, that 
lie hoped the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, with the 
help of his prayers, would inspire him with the neces 
sary courage to embrace, and patience to suffer all this 
rigor, even to the end of his life. Palemon perceiving 
the lively faith and steadfast resolution of the young 
man, was content to receive him, and clothe him with 
the monastic habit ; and Pachomius, on his part, from 
the very beginning, embraced the exercises of a reli 
gious life with so much ardor, and advanced with such 
large steps, day by day, in the paths of virtue and per 
fection, as to give unspeakable satisfaction and joy to 
his master, who continually returned thanks to Christ 
for the wonders of his grace which he discovered in 
his disciple. In the mean time they lived together in 
the same cell, performed the same practices of absti 
nence and prayer, and labored together in the same 
manual exercises, that they might not only support 
themselves without being burthensome to others, but 
also to have wherewith to entertain and relieve their 
indigent brethren. After the labors of the day, they 
watched and prayed together for the best part of the 


night ; and if, upon these occasions, Palemon observed 
that Pachomius was in danger of falling asleep, he led 
him out of the cell, and employed him in carrying 
loads of sand from one place to another, in order to 
vercome his drowsiness ; telling him, that if he hoped 
/) persevere to the end in his holy undertaking, he 
must not by any means suffer himself to relax in 
watching and prayer. Besides these exercises, Pacho 
mius, in a more particular manner, applied himself to 
the cultivating and purifying his interior. In order to 
this, whilst he was reading the holy scriptures, and 
committing them to his memory, which was a part of 
his daily occupation, he paused in silent and deep 
meditation upon each of the heavenly precepts, suffer 
ing them to sink deep into his soul, and studying to 
reduce each of them to practice ; but the favorite vir 
tues in which he particularly labored to excel were, a 
profound humility, unwearied patience, and unbound 
ed charity and love both for God and his neighbor. 

When Easter arrived, Palemon ordered Pachomius 
to prepare them a dinner for that great festival. The 
latter readily obeyed, and, in consideration of the so 
lemnity of the feast, mingled a little oil and salt to 
gether to be eaten with the wild herbs which he had 
gathered. But when, after having prayed together, 
Palemon came to table, and saw the sallad prepared 
for him, instead of eating it, he wept bitterly, saying : 
" my Lord was crucified, and shall I indulge myself 


in eating oil !" Neither would lie at any rate be in* 
duced to take any other food but his bread and salt aa 
usual, blessing it with the sign of the cross before ho 
eat thereof, and returning humble thanks to our Lord 

One day, whilst Paleraon and Pachomius were 
watching together by a fire they had kindled in their 
cell, another religious man coming to them, desired 
admittance, whom they courteously received. Aftei 
some discourse the stranger proposed to them, " thai 
if they had as much faith as he had, they would show 
it, by standing with their bare feet over the burnino 
coals, which himself was ready to do, whilst they re 
peated at leisure the Lord s prayer. The servants of 
God were shocked at the arrogance of their guest ; 
and Palemon besought him to desist from so mad an 
attempt. But instead of hearkening to him, being 
puffed up with pride and presumption, he went and 
stood upon the coals, and by the help of the enemy, 
God so permitting, in punishment of his pride, receiv 
ed no injury whatsoever. The next morning at de 
parting, he added to his pride the insolence of insult 
ing the two saints, by reproaching them with their 
want of faith. But it wns not long before his arro 
gance was most dreadfully punished: for the devil 
perceiving that his self-conceit had already stripped 
him of divine grace, and left him in a condition to be- 
oome an easy prey to lust, came one day to his cell, 


m the shape of a most beautiful woman, pretending to 
he in the utmost distress, and being- admitted, en 
kindled in his heart the fire of concupiscence. The 
unhappy man readily yielded to these wicked sugges 
tions, and attempting to put them in execution, was 
so unmercifully handled by the evil spirit, as to be left 
extended upon the floor, without speech or sense. 
Having however, after some time, come to himself, he, 
as soon as he was able to walk, went to the cell of St. 
Palemon telling what had happened, and acknowledg 
ing that he had drawn all this evil upon himself by 
his pride, and begging their prayers, that the devil 
might not tear him in pieces, or otherwise destroy him. 
The Saints lamented his case, and wept for him ; but 
the enemy to whom he had made himself a slave, 
would not suffer him to remain with them ; for all on 
a sudden he jumped out of the cell, and after running 
about the wilderness like a mad man, he went to the 
neighboring city of Panopolis, and there, having flung 
himself into the furnace of the hot baths, he perished 
in the flames a deplorable example of the dreadful 
consequences of pride and presumption. 

Pachomius, from hearing the direful exit of this un 
happy man, took occasion of being still more humble, 
mortified, and fervent in prayer ; and as he had an 
extraordinary love for solitude, he often withdrew from 
his cell into lonely places, spending his whole time in 
prayer ; earnestly begging of the divine Majesty to do- 


liver him from all the deceits and snares of the wicked 
one. There was also in the neighborhood a wild 
place full of thorns, to which he often went to procure 
wood for their use. Upon these occasions it was his 
custom to walk bare-foot among the thorns, pleasing 
himself with the pricks and wounds that he received 
in his feet, by the meditation of t\Q piercing of the 
feet of our Saviour upon the cross. One day, going 
to a greater distance than ordinary from his cell, he 
came to a place called Tabenna, at that time altogeth 
er uninhabited, where having, according to custom, 
remained a considerable time in prayer, it was reve<\l- 
ed to him, that he should there build a monastery, to 
which many should resort, and put themselves under 
his conduct; for whose instruction and direction he 
should receive a rule from heaven ; a sketch of which 
was then presented him by an angel. When he re 
turned back to Palemon, he acquainted him with this 
revelation, and prevailed on him to accompany him 
to Tabenna, where they built a small cell, and for 
some time remained together, performing their accus 
tomed exercises, till at length Palemon, seeing the ex 
traordinary grace that God had conferred on Pacho- 
mius, went back again, and left him sole possessor o 
this new cell, upon condition, that, as long as they 
lived, they should frequently visit each other for theii 
mutual comfort and spiritual assistance. 

And now the time drew near which was to crown 


the labors of St. Palemon with an eterna. recompense 
in the land of the living. Previous to his death, ha 
was seized with a grievous and most painful illness, 
whi<?h the brethren who came to visit him, attributed 
to his austere and penitential manner of life, and 
therefore prevailed upon him to admit of some little 
comfort, in point of eating and drinking, in considera 
tion of his age and weakness. But he quickly return 
ed again to his former manner of diet, alledging, that 
the change had only contributed to increase his pains, 
and that if the martyrs had bravely suffered so many 
cruel torments for the love of Christ, and thereby pur 
chased a happy eternity, it would be shameful in him 
to forfeit the eternal reward prepared for patient suf 
fering, by a cowardly murmuring under his light and 
momentary pains. After he had continued about a 
month, suffering with invincible courage and constan 
cy, his soul, sufficiently purified in the furnace of trib 
ulation, took her happy flight, accompanied by angels 
to the heavenly mansions. His name stands recorded 
amongst the Saints in the Pioman Martyrology, on the 
eleventh of January. 

After Pachomius had buried his holy father, and 
was returned to his cell at Tabenna, God was pleased 
to send him his own brother for a companion, who, 
having heard of his wonderful life, came to visit him, 
which was the first time the Saint had seen any of hia 
relations since his conversion, and proposed to live with 


him. Pachomius having joyfully received him, found 
in his brother all the dispositions that could be desired 
in a perfect religious man. The two brothers contin 
ued together, meditating incessantly on the law of 
God both by day and night, with all the affection of 
their souls, ever tending towards him, and totally dis 
engaged from the least affection towards the things of 
the earth. They labored with their hands for their 
daily food, and never reserved any thing for to-mor 
row ; but whatever they earned above the necessary 
sustenance of the day they gave to the poor. Pacho 
mius to his former austerities added that of humbling 
his soul and body, by wearing hair-cloth ; and during 
the space of fifteen years, notwithstanding his hard 
labors, long watchings, and continual fastings, never 
allowed himself to lie down at night to take his rest ; 
but whatever sleep he admitted of, he took sitting in 
the midst of his cell, without having any thing at his 
back to support himself, or to lean against for his 

In the mean time, the Saint being a second time 
admonished from heaven concerning the religious con 
gregation he was to institute, and the rules he was to 
give them, began to enlarge the place of their habita- 
Jon, and to build several additional cells for the recep 
tion of those whom he expected would come in good 
time to join him in the service of so great a Master 
His brother, whose spirit inclined rather to the life of 


an anchoret, in a more perfect solitude, after some 
time blamed his proceedings, and being the elder 
brother, took upon him to bid him desist from so use 
less a labor. The Saint, although he could not help be 
ing troubled at this opposition, yet bore it with meek 
ness and humility, without making the least reply. 
But the following night, prostrating himself alone in 
prayer in the new building, he remained till morning 
in this humble posture, lamenting his misery, and im 
ploring the divine mercy for having suffered any emo 
tions of impatience or resentment on this occasion to 
take place in his soul, begging the grace of God to 
guard and protect him from sin, and so powerfully to 
assist him for the future, that he might acquire a per 
fect mastery over all his passions, and serve him with 
all perfection all the days of his life. So numerous 
were the tears he shed that night, so great the fervor 
of his prayer, and the weather so violently hot, that 
what with his weeping and sweat, the place on which 
he lay prostrate became as wet as if water had been 
cast upon it. At other times, during his devotions 
by night, he used to excite himself to watching and 
fervor in prayer, by stretching out his arms, keeping 
his body as immovable as if he were fastened to the 
cross, and remaining for several hours in this painful 
posture. On all occasions Pachomius behaved him 
self with such humility, meekness, and condescension 
towards his brother, that they lived together in the 

136 ST. FAcnoMirs. 

most perfect harmony and peace, till God was pleased 
to take the brother to himself. Pachomius took care 
for his burial, and spent the whole night in singing 
psalms and hymns over his body, and recommending 
his soul to God. 

And now PacLomius, as if all he had hitherto done 
had been nothing, forgetting, with the Apostle, the 
things that were behind, stretched forth himself to the 
things that wen- before, by a new fervor in the study 
and practice of religious perfection, having the congre 
gation which he was to establish in that place always 
before his eyes. This drew upon him the inveterate 
envy and malice of the wicked enemy, by whom he 
was incessantly plied with temptations of every kind, 
and frequently with fantastical apparitions ; who 
sought either to puff him tip with pride and vain 
glory, by the honors he pretended to pay him, or to 
allure him to lust, by placing the figures of impudent 
women with bare bosoms before him, or by interrupt 
ing and distracting him in his devotions, by a variety 
of illusions and ludicrous scenes ; sometimes also as 
saulting him with open violence, and even laying 
many blows and stripes upon him. But the Saint, 
armed with a lively faith and strong confidence in 
Jesus Christ, whom he called to his assistance by fer 
vent prayer, ever came off victorious in all these con 
flicts, and even with a great increase of virtue, to the 
utter confusion of all the powers of hell : so that being 


now enabled by the gift of God, to tread under hia 
feet serpents and scorpions, the very crocodiles obeyed 
him. In the mean time he would have willingly de 
barred himself even of the short time he was obliged 
to allow to necessary sleep, which he would have 
gladly spent in prayer, and earnestly prayed that the 
Lord would enable him to live without it, that he 
might be wholly intent on his divine love, which, in 
some measure, as far as his mortal condition could 
bear was granted to him. Now the great subject of 
his prayer, both night and day, was that the will of 
God might be ever accomplished in all things. 

Shortly afterwards he was again visited by an angel 
who told him that it was the will of God that he 
should not only serve him himself, with all purity and 
perfection, but also that he should assemble a great 
multitude of religious men together, and train them 
up, and dedicate them to his divine seivice, according 
to the method and rule which had been shown him 
before. So that now he began to receive all such as 
came to him, that were desirous to fly from the conta- 
oion of the world, and, by penance, present themselves 
as humble suitors to the mercy of God. After having 
made them pas? through a long and severe noviceship, 
he admitted them to the monastic profession, inces 
santly inculcating to them the strict obligation of their 
institute, as well with respect to flying from all the 
allurements of the world, as of diligently exercising 


themselves in the ways of virtue and holiness : adding, 
that a monft, according to the directions of the gospel, 
ought first, to renounce the world in general : second 
ly, all disorderly affections of flesh and blood to his 
nearest kindred and worldly friends ; and, in the last 
place, the most difficult of all, he ought to renounce 
and deny himself, take up his cross and follow Christ. 

As the number of those that resorted to him in 
creased every day, he distributed them into different 
classes and monasteries, appointing to each of them 
their regular exercises and different employments, ac 
cording to their several abilities and dispositions, and 
making himself all to all, not only by a general solici 
tude for their spiritual progress, but also by his readi 
ness to serve even the least of them in the meanest 
offices, so as to make himself, on every occasion, their 
cook their gardener their porter and especially 
their infirmarian, by the tender care he always show 
ed to the sick, on whom he attended both night and 

He delivered to all his monks the rules he had re 
ceived from heaven, appointing for them a very mod 
erate food, a mean habit, and no more sleep than ne 
cessity required. He labored to inspire them with a 
well-grounded humility, as the necessary foundation 
of all virtue, without which the. spiritual edifice of a 
religious life is sure to fall to the ground. To exclude 
all ambiti?n, or desire of preferment and superiority, 


he would not even allow his monks to be promoted to 
the priestly dignity, choosing that they should rathei 
remain in the humble condition of laics ; and therefore, 
till God sent him some priests, who desired to be ad 
mitted to his congregation (for such as these he did 
ot refuse, but received with great respect), he was 
forced to have recourse to some neighboring clergy 
men, requesting them to come and say mass, and ad 
minister the holy communion to the religious in his 
monasteries. But above all things he recommended 
a read) and perfect obedience, as the very soul of reli 
gion, and the shortest way to religious perfection, by 
divesting them of their own will, and making them 
securely find, and faithfully follow, in all things, the 
blessed will of God. 

He had the bowels of a tender parent towards all 
his children, but a more particular affection and com 
passion for the aged and sick, as also for young boys, 
serving them, and exercising the works of mercy to 
wards them with his own hands, and feeling a more 
than ordinary solicitude for their comfort and instruc 
tion. Nothing could equal the respect, he retained for 
the clergy in general, more particularly the bishops of 
God s church, or the zeal he had for the purity of the 
catholic faith, which made him conceive a horror 
against the Arians and other heretics, as enemies of 
God s truth : and, as at that time the writings of Ori- 
gen, who had unhappily blended the errors of tha 


Platonic philosophers with the Christian doctrine, were 
very much handed about among the Egyptian monks. 
to the great prejudice of their souls, Pachomius de 
clared open war against them, and prohibited all his 
monks the reading of them. 

Being likewise animated by an extraordinary zeal 
for the salvation of the souls, not only of his own reli 
gious, but also of all others whom he saw in want of 
spiritual assistance, and observing in that part of the 
country many of the meaner sort of people employed 
in the care of the cattle, who had for want of having 
a church at hand to which they might resort, lived in 
great ignorance, deprived of the use of the sacra 
ments ; to remedy so great an evil, he applied to the 
bishop of Tentyra, and procured that a church should 
be built for them in the neighboring village ; and as it 
was some time before they were provided with clergy 
men, he went himself with his monks, on Sundays 
and holidays, and read lessons out of the divine Scrip 
tures, proper for their instruction, in so edifying a man 
ner, with such a saintly air of devotion, and so serene 
and heavenly a countenance, as made his auditory re 
ceive him, and attend to him, not as to a man, but as 
to an angel sent them from heaven. Numbers upon 
this occasion were brought over by his instructions 
from the gulf of in6delity and error to the Christian 
faith ; and the more so, because he, on his part, em 
ployed nut only the words of exhortation and doctrine 


in their behalf, but also the more effectual arms of fer 
vent prayer for their conversion, accompanied with 
many sighs and tears. 

About this time the great St. Athanasius, bishop of 
Alexandria, in visiting the churches of Egypt, which 
were all under his jurisdiction, came also to Tabenna, 
where our Saint had established his monasteries. 
Pachomius, who had venerated this holy patriarch, as 
.he great pillar of the church of God, and respected 
nim much more for his sanctity than for his dignity, 
caused all his monks to go out to meet him, singing 
psalms and hymns, and to receive him with great rev 
erence and joy ; yet so that he himself would not ap 
pear at their head, nor any way distinguish himself 
amongst them, but hid himself in the crowd, to avoid 
being particularly taken notice of by that great prel 
ate, who, as he feared, would promote him against his 
will to the priestly dignity, at the recommendation of 
the bishop of Tentyra his diocesan, who very much 
desired to have him ordained priest. 

Whilst Pachomius was thus happily employed in 
conducting a great number of holy souls in the ways 
of eternal life, and directing them to perfection, both 
by word and example, his sister, hearing the fame of 
his sanctity, came one day to his monastery, desiring 
to see him. The Saint, who never admitted any wo 
man into his monastery, sent her word by the porter 
that he was alive and well, and requested she would 


return homo in peace, and not make herself uneasy on 
account of her not seeing him in this transitory life ; 
but added, that if she desired to follow the same kind 
of life as he did, in order to find mercy with God, and 
secure to her soul a happy eternity, she should think 
seriously of it ; and if this should be her fixed resolu 
tion, he would give orders for building a proper man 
sion for her at a distance from his monastery, where 
she might serve the Lord, under regular discipline, in 
all purity of soul and body, and in time engage many 
others, by her example, to dedicate themselves in like 
manner to the love and service of Christ in a religious 
life : for, to expect to find, said he, any solid rest, con 
tent, or happiness, but in works of godliness, as long 
as we carry this body of death about us, is a thing 
utterly impossible. His sister hearing this, shed a 
flood of tears ; and being at the same time touched 
with a powerful grace, determined upon the spot to 
choose that better part which he had so strenuously 
recommended to her ; and accordingly, as soon as the 
monastery which he ordered to be built for her, was 
in readiness, she entered into it, and there served our 
Lord with such sanctity and perfection, as to attract 
many others of her sex to join in her holy undertak 
ing, and consecrate themselves to Christ under her 
direction. This was the origin of the nuns of the or 
der of St. Pnchomius, to whom the Saint gave the 
same rules as to his monks : and took the strictest 


care imaginable, that the one should have 1/ttle or no 
communication with the other, so that he might cut 
off all occasions of temptation. 

Among the disciples of St. Pachomms, the most 
illustrious imitator of his virtues, and his successor in 
sanctity, was St. Theodore, whose history is briefly as 
follows : He was born of noble and wealthy Christian 
parents, according to the world. His father dying 
when he was very young, left him heir to a plentiful 
estate, under the care of a tender and affectionate 
mother. But he had a better Father in heaven, who 
showed his great care and tender love for him by an 
early weaning of his heart from the love of Uie world 
and its vanities ; and sweetly inviting him to his divine 
service in a very extraordinary manner, when he was 
as yet scarcely twelve years old. His conversion hap 
pened upon a solemn occasion of public mirth, whilst 
a great feast was preparing in his house, which abound 
ed in rich furniture and all kind of world! v wealth, 
when behold he was suddenly visited with a heavenly 
light in his interior, which clearly convinced him of 
the nothingness of transitory things, accompanied with 
a strong call to give up all to follow Christ. " Alas ! 
what would it profit thee, unhappy Theodore," said 
he to himself on this occasion, " if thou shouldest even 
gain the whole world, and enjoy all the temporal de 
lights the world can give, shouldst thou lose by these 
means the eternal goods arvl immortal joys of heaven f 


for there is no pretending to pass thy life here in these 
vain pleasures and delights, and yet expect to merit 
jverlasting rewards hereafter." With these send 
meats he withdrew himself into a private closet, and 
there prostrating himself on the floor, with many sigha 
and tears he prayed thus to our Lord : " Almighty 
God, who knowest all the secrets of hearts, thou know- 
est there is not any thing in this world that I prefer 
before the love of thee. Wherefore I implore thy 
mercy, that thou wouldst direct me to accomplish thy 
holy will, enlightening my poor soul, that she may 
never sleep in the darkness of sin and eternal death, 
but being redeemed by thy grace, may be brought to 
praise and glorify thee for ever." Whilst he was pray 
ing to this effect his mother came in, and finding him 
all in tears, asked him who had given him any trouble 
or offence, that he should grieve in such a manner, and 
separate himself at dinner time from the company ? 
that they had been seeking him every where, and were 
greatly concerned about him. He begged of her to 
make herself quite easy, and to go to table, but de 
sired withal to be excused from bearing her company. 
From this time he accustomed himself, in going to 
school, to fast every day till the evening, and frequent 
ly to eat nothing for two days ; and for two whole 
years, whilst he remained in the world, he totally re 
frained from all delicacies, contenting himself with the 
meanest and coarsest kind of food. After some time 

8T. PACHOMItJS. 146 

he quitted all that he seemed to possess in the world, 
and entered into a monastery : where he had not been 
long before he heard of St. Pachomius, and was in 
spired with a desire of putting himself under his dis 
cipline. Having followed the call, he went to Taben- 
na, was cordially received by the Saint, and, in a short 
time, by the great fervor with which he applied him 
self to watching, fasting, and prayer, and to all good 
works, made a very considerable progress in all vir 

Whilst Theodore was climbing up the hill of Chris 
tian perfection, by a constant attention to please God, 
and omit nothing which he conceived would promote 
his spiritual advancement, his mother having heard 
where he was, attempted to bring him back again into 
the world. Wherefore having obtained letters of re 
commendation from some bishops, to whom she knew 
Pachomius could refuse nothing, she went to the mon 
astery of the nuns, and wrote from thence to the holy 
abbot, desiring that she might see her son. Pachomi 
us called for Theodore, and told him how the case 
stood ; and that to satisfy his mother s, desire, and in 
consideration of the holy prelates whose letters she 
had brought, he thought he might go and see her. 
And will you assure me, reverend father, said Theo 
dore, that after receiving such great lights and calls 
from God, as I have received, and leaving both my 
mothei and all things else in the world, for the love 


of Christ, I shall have nothing to answer to our Lord, 
at the last day, if I should go now and see my mother 
to gratify flesh and blood, and give this disedification 
to my brethren ? Nay, said Pachomius, if you don t 
judge it expedient for your soul, I don t wish to com 
pel you : for it is far more becoming a true monk 
whose profession it is to renounce the whole world, 
and himself also, to shun all manner of unprofitable 
worldly visits and vain conversation, and to admit of 
no other company but of those from whose godly dis 
course he may be edified in the ways of God. This 
refusal, however disagreeable it might be at first to 
the mother of Theodore, turned to her great advan 
tage, in order to the salvation of her soul ; for in 
hopes of meeting with some opportunity, sooner or 
later, of seeing her son amongst the other religious, 
she resolved to continue with the nuns, and to follow 
the same holy way of life. And as to Theodore, his 
whole life from this time was so perfect and saint-like 
in every regard, that after his death he was enrolled 
amongst the saints. His name occurs in the Roman 
Martyrology on the twenty-eighth of December. 

But to return to St. Pachomius. As he had re 
ceived unspeakable joy and comfort on occasion of the 
fervor of Theodore and many others of his monks, 
whom he saw advancing rapidly in the way of reli 
gious perfection, so he was exceedingly afflicted when 
he met any one, who, under the habit of religion, had 


nothing of the spirit of religion, but lived rather ac 
cording to the flesh, not having as yet put oft the old 
man of their former worldly conversation. With such 
as these he spared no pains, but employed every means, 
such as admonitions exhortations corrections fer 
vent prayers to God, and tears poured forth in their 
behalf, in order to obtain for them the grace of a per 
fect conversion : and did not desist till they were either 
brought to a sense of their duty, and reclaimed from 
their evil ways, or else, if they proved incorrigible, en 
tirely cut off from his congregation. A young man, 
named Silvanus, who had been an actor upon the 
stage, quitting his sinful profession, came to put him 
self undei the discipline of the Saint, and was received 
in his monastery. But whilst he was here, he led for 
some time a careless life, breaking through the rules 
of the- congregation, and spending his time in enter 
taining himself and others with his former ridiculous 
buffooneries, to the great scandal of his brethren, who 
desired the holy abbot to dismiss him. The man of 
God, who was very unwilling to send back again into 
the world any of his children, employed, besides his 
charitable remonstrances and exhortations, which were 
without effect, his more potent arm of continual pray 
er, sighs and tears, for this poor soul ; and then taking 
him aside, represented to him, in so strong and pow 
erful a manner, the truths of eternity, the dreadful 
judgments that threaten impenitent sinners, with the 


rest of the motives thai are most proper to excite ra 
souls both the fear and love of God : that the grace 
of God entering into the heart of Silvaims, he was 
immediately touched with so lively a sense of his sins, 
and such deep compunction for them, as not only en 
tirely to refrain for the time to come from his former 
faults, and begin to lead a new life of great edification 
to the rest of his brethren, but also in every place, arid 
in all his occupations to be continually weeping and 
".amen ting so bitterly for his past crimes, that he could 
not refrain from sobbing and mourning, even whilst 
he was taking his meal with the other religious. 
When his brethren desired him not to afflict himself 
to such an excessive degree, since it became even trou 
blesome to them, but rather to restrain these outward 
tokens of grief which were no way necessary even to 
the most perfect compunction, the true seat of which 
dwelt within the heart, he answered, that he would 
jjladly obey them, and accordingly made all the effort? 
he could to refrain from them ; but he found a certain 
flame burning within his breast, that would not suffer 
him to be quiet. But, said they, what subject or oc 
casion is there for all these flood of tears 1 " Ah " 
said he, " how can I help weeping, when I see so 
many holy brethren, the dust of whose feet I ought 
to venerate, so charitable as to take notice of me? 
When I see a wretch that is come from the playhouse, 
quite laden with sins, receive so many good offices. 1 


Alas ! I have reason to fear, lest the earth should open 
under my feet, and swallow me down, as it did 
Dathan and Abiron, in punishment of my having pro 
faned all that was sacred, after so clear a knowledge 
and experience of divine grace, by leading so slothful 
and wicked a life. Wonder not at my weeping. Oh ? 
my brethren, I have just reason to labor to expiate 
my innumerable sins with ever flowing fountains of 
tears; and if I could even pour forth this wretched 
soul of mine in mourning, it would be all too little to 
punish my crimes. 1 With these sentiments of humil 
ity and contrition he made so rapid a progress in vir 
tue and sanctity, as to be admired by the holy abbot 
himself, who proposed him to the rest of his monks, 
as a singular pattern of humility, and assured them 
that neither Theodore himself, nor any of the rest of 
them, whose lives had been the most innocent, and 
who seemed, by their good works, to have already 
trodden Satan under their feet, were near so much out 
of danger of this enemy rising up against them, and 
overthrowing them by pride, as Silvanus was, whose 
perpetual contrition and humility kept the devil at so 
great a distance, that he could lay no manner of hold 
on him. This glorious penitent, after eight years spent 
in thus continually offering to God the sacrifice of a 
contrite and humble heart, put a happy end to his 
penitential course of life, by dying the death of the 
saints : and St. Pachomius gave testimony, that at tht 


hour of his death a multitude of heavenly spirits con 
veyed his soul along with them, with great joy, and 
presented it as a choice sacrifice to Christ our Lord. 

There was another also of the religious whose sanc 
tity was much esteemed by Pachomius, whom he like 
wise proposed as an extraordinary pattern of virtue 
and perfection to the rest of his monks. His name 
was Zacheus ; who, after he had for a long tim 
served the Lord with great diligence and fervor in a 
religious state, fell ill of the jaundice, which forsook 
him not till his death. On this occasion lie had a cell 
appointed him, in which he lived separated from the 
rest of the religious ; yet he omitted none of the regu 
lar exercises of the community, but was always with 
the rest at all the hours of prayer. He never allowed 
himself in his illness any sleep in the day ; and every 
night, before he laid himself down to rest, he employ 
ed himself for a considerable time in meditating on 
some passages of the holy Scriptures, and then signing 
his whole body with the sign of the cross, and glorify 
ing God, he took his short repose. About midnight 
he rose again, and continued praising God till the 
time of the morning prayers. His entire food was 
only bread and salt, and the whole time that was va 
cant from other duties, he spent in making mats, and 
woiking with his hands. In twisting the palm-leavet 
which he made use of in his work, though his hand* 
became so much galled and wounded thereby as often 


times to shed blood, yet he never interrupted his work, 
nor betrayed the least emotion to impatience. One 
of the brethren, on seeing his hands grievously wound 
^d, and all bloody whilst at work, entreated him to 
consider his illness, and to spare himself; for that God, 
who knew what he suffered, and how much he was 
otherwise afflicted by his disease, would not impute it 
to him for sin, nor charge him with sloth, if he did 
not work ; and as to the community, they expected it 
not from him ; but as they willingly exercised hospi 
tality to the greatest stranger, and to all that were in 
want, they would, no doubt, take a much greater 
pleasure in serving him. Zacheus answered that he 
could not possibly think of living without working. 
Well, said the other, if you are fixed in your resolu 
tion of continuing to work, at least anoint your hands 
with oil, to prevent the loss of so much blood. Za 
cheus followed his advice ; but instead of finding any 
ease by the application of the oil to his wounded 
hands, the pain increased to such a degree as to be 
come quite insupportable. St. Pachomius came to 
visit him on this occasion, and treating him as one 
that stood not in need of milk, but was capable of di 
gesting the strongest diet, reprehended him for having 
sought this assuagement of his pains, which God had 
sent him for his profit, and not having resigned him 
self wholly to him, but rather trusted in this visible 
medicine than in the living God. Zacheus made no 


apology for himself, but meekly answered : " Forgive 
me, reverend father, and pray to the Lord for me, that 
he may vouchsafe in his mercy to remit me this sir 
also, together with all my other sins." My authoi 
adds, from the testimony of many of the brethren, that 
he bewailed himself for a whole twelvemonth on this 
occasion, and observed during that time so strict a fast, 
as to eat but once in two days, and that in a small 
quantity. Pachomius used to direct such as were 
afflicted, or oppressed with sadness, to this holy man, 
for he had a wonderful talent of administering com 
fort to all that were in trouble or affliction of mind. 
He continued his labors and conflicts to the end; 
when in a good old age he passed from temporal sor 
rows to eternal joys. 

St. Pachomius was invited by Varus, the holy bishop 
of Panopolis, to come into his diocese, in order to es 
tablish some monasteries of his institute. In this way 
he visited divers religious houses included in the num 
ber of those that were under his direction. On enter 
ing into one of these houses, he met the brethren car- 
rving out the corpse of one of the religious, accom 
panied by his worldly friends and relations, in order 
to be buried with a solemn office in an honorable 
manner. At the sight of the Saint they all stood 
Atill, desiring him to piay both for themselves and the 
deceased brother. H.IN ing finished his prayer, under 
standing in spirit the vi etched state of his soul, (fo/ 


th3 man had led a very careless and indolent life), lie 
forbid them to proceed in their psalrns, and ordered 
them to strip off the fine garments with which they 
had clad him, and to bury him without any solemnity 
or tokens of honor, which, as the holy abbot assured 
them, would be rather prejudicial than beneficial to 
his unhappy soul ; which proceeding of the Saint was 
designed as a warning to all his disciples not to rel) 
so much on wearing the habit, as in leading the life 
of a religious. After remaining here two days, teach 
ing and instructing his monks, and arming them 
against the deceits of Satan, a message was brought 
him from the monastery of Chenoboscium, that one 
of the religious there, who was near his end, desired 
to see him, and to have his last blessing before he 
died. Thither he hastened with the utmost speed : 
but when he came within two or three miles of the 
monastery, he heard a heavenly melody in the air, and 
looking up beheld the soul of the servant of God car 
ried up by angels to heaven, who died at the very in 
stant of time, as the companions of the Saint, to whom 
he related what he had heard and seen, found when 
they returned to the monastery. 

Pachomius was received witr great honor by the 
bishop, who assigned proper places to him and his 
monks for the building of their monasteries, which, 
whilst they were rising up, some wicked men, by the 
instigation of Satan, pulled down in the night what they 


had built during the day. On this occasion the Saint 
preached patience to his people ; but God took his 
cause in hand for one night, whilst these wretches were 
intent upon their wickedness, they were suddenly con 
sumed by fire, and seen no more. On several other 
occasions God was pleased to work miracles in favor 
of the faith and sanctity of his servant Pachomius, of 
which the following instances may suffice. A woman, 
who had labored for a long time under an issne of 
blood, was suddenly cured, by coming behind him, 
and only touching his habit whilst he was sitting in 
the church of Tentyra, with Denys the priest. >Iany 
others were healed of divers diseases, and delivered 
from the possession of wicked spirits, by his prayers. 
A man came to him one day, desiring him to cast the 
devil out of his daughter. The Saint told him that 
he and his religious never spoke to women, but that 
he should send him in any garment that belonged to 
his daughter, which he would bless in the name of the 
Lord : and that he trusted in Christ she would be res 
cued from the power of the enemy. The father ac 
cordingly brought him one of her garments, which 
when the holy abbot beheld, he presently understood 
in spirit the case of the young woman, viz. that she 
was guilty of sins of impurity, by which she had vio 
lated the vow of chastity she had made to God, and 
that upon this account the devil had permission U, take 
possession of her. He returned therefore the garment 


to the father, telling him how the case stood, and that 
if he desired his daughter should be delivered from the 
devil, she must first repent, be converted from her sins, 
promise not to be guilty of them any more, and that 
then she should find mercy. Her father took her *A 
task, arid at length she acknowledged her guilt, with 
great signs of repentance, and promised, in the most 
solemn manner, to refrain from committing the like 
sins for the future. Upon which the man of God 
gave the father some oil which he had blessed, by the 
use of which she was presently cured, and never 
ceased to glorify God, who had delivered her at once, 
both from the possession of the devil, and from her 
sinful habit. The Saint on his part was never puffed 
up with pride or vain glory on account of any of the 
miraculous cures that God wrought by him ; but con 
tinuing always in the fear of God, and in a perfect 
sense of his own nothingness, he kept his soul always 
evsn, so as neither to be elevated by good success, nor 
depressed with evil : and if at any time God did not 
grant the things for which he petitioned, he was per 
fectly resigned to the divine will, knowing that to be 
best, both for himself and for all others, which God 
ordained, and saw to be most fitting. 

One of the religious, who was a diligent imitator of 
the virtues of the holy abbot, standing one day in 
prayer, was struck in the foot by a scorpion, and 
though the torment he suffered on that occasion was 


extreme, and the pain, togethei with the poison, had 
spread itself even to the heart, and threatened him 
with present death, yet he would by no means inter 
rupt his devotions, nor stir from his place, till ho had 
finished his prayer ; and then Pachomius prayed to 
our Lord in bis rchalf, and he was presently healed. 
On the other hand Theodore, being afflicted with a 
violent pain in the head, desired the .nan of God to 
pray for his cure : but he answered, that it was far 
better for him to bear the pain, which God had sent 
for his profit, with perfect resignation, patience, and 
humility, how long soever it might continue to afflict 
him, and to thank his divine Majesty for it, as for a 
great favor ; saying, that a religious man might merit 
more, and please God better, by patience and confor 
mity to his divine will in sufferings and sickness, than 
by the most rigorous abstinence, or long continual 
prayers in the time of health. 

And now after our Saint had established his con 
gregation upon a solid foundation, and assembled to 
gether a multitude of holy souls, serving God in great 
perfection, many of whom he had sent before him to 
heaven, he himself was seized with his last illness a 
little after Easter, anno 348. In his sickness he pre 
served always a serene and cheerful countenance : and 
after having called together the brethren, and made 
an excellent exhortation to them, begging of them to 
ever remember all the lessons he had given, to avoid 


(he conversation of heretics, and to be ever vigilant in 
prayer and all other exercises of virtue, he recommend 
ed to them the choice of a successor : and after two 
days, arming himself with the sign of the cross, and 
looking with a cheerful aspect on an angel of light, 
who was sent to conduct bim to heaven, he breathed 
out his holy soul, to take her ilight to her heavenly 
country, upon the ninth of May. His name stands 
recorded among the Saints in the Roman Martyrolo- 
gy, on the fourteenth of May ; and in the Menologies 
of the Greeks on the fifteenth ; where also they affirm 
that the number of his monks, before his death, 
amounted to one thousand four hundred. But Palla- 
dius, afterwards bishop of Helenopolis, who has given 
an abstract of the life of St. Pachomius, in his Historia 
Lausiaca, chap. 38, and who had visited in person the 
holy inhabitants of the deserts of Egypt, some years 
after the death of this Saint, affirms that the whole 
number of the monks, whom St. Pachomius had under 
his care in all his monasteries, amounted to seven 
thousand ; and that in his own monastery of Tabenna 
alone, there were no less than one thousand four hun 
dred monks, who maintained themselves by the labor 
of their own hands, without being troublesome to any 
one, and who, at the same time, by their frugal way 
of living, were enabled also to exercise hospitality, and 
to give liberal charities to the poor. 


158 ST. AMMO JT. 


From St ithacasius, in his Life cf St. Antony, chap. 31. 
Rufinua and Palladius, in their History of the Holy 
Fathers of the Deserts of Egypt. 

ST. AMMCN, or Amon, the first founder of the monas 
teries of Nitri.i, and as some authors affirm, the first 
author of a cenobitical or conventual life, was born of 
noble and wealthy Egyptian parents in the third cen 
tury. From his youth he embraced a saintly life, de 
siring to serve God in perfect purity both of soul and 
body ; but when he arrived at the age of twenty-two, 
his relations compelled him to marry a Christian virgin 
animated by the like virtuous dispositions as himself, 
as appeared shortly after ; for as soon as they were left 
alone on their wedding night, Ammon represented to 
his spouse how much happier and more pleasing to 
God the state of virginity was, than that of the use 
of matrimony, strengthening his arguments with the 
authority of holy Scripture, and at the same time so 
powerfully exhorting her to preserve the treasure of 
her virginal purity, and instructing her in the manner 
of life she should lead to please Christ, the true spouse 
of virgins, that she willingly agreed that they should 
live like brother and sister in the same house, in per 
fect continence, lying in different beds, and only united 

ST. AMMON. 159 

with the bonds of the spirit, in chanty and prayer. 
After this manner they lived together in the world for 
the space of eighteen years ; Ammon dividing his 
time in such manner as to dedicate the best part of it 
to labor, by working in his garden and balm-yard, and 
the rest to his exercises of prayer and devotion, usually 
fasting till the evening. At the expiration of this 
time, their parents and friends, who had obliged them 
to marry, being now dead, they mutually agreed to 
live asunder, and each of them to embrace a monastic 
life. Ammon, therefore, left her in possession of the 
house, which, in process of time, she converted into a 
nunnery : many devout virgins resorting to her, and 
putting themselves under her direction, whilst he re 
tired into the wilderness of mount Nitria, forty miles 
distant from Alexandria, where he built two cells, and 
laid the foundations of that admirable religious insti 
tute, which was afterwards followed by no less than 
five thousand religious, who, although dwelling in 
about fifty different habitations, yet all meeting to 
their public devotions in one large church, served by 
eight priests. 

As to the particulars of the acts of St. Ammon, 
after his retiring to mount Nitria, as none of his con 
temporaries have given us his life at large, we must 
content oui selves with briefly inserting what is inci 
dentally related of him in the life of St. Antony, chap. 
32. Here we are informed by St. Athanasius, 

100 8T. AMMON. 

tlmt St. Ammon, who was united with St. Antony in 
the bands of a most holy friendship, frequently visited 
him ; secondly, that from his childhood to an ad 
vanced age, he always lived the life of a saint ; 
thirdly, that he was greatly renowned for signs, wos 
ders, and miraculous graces ; and fourthly, that a! 
the instant of his death, his happy soul was seen by 
St. Antony, then at the distance of thirteen day s jour 
ney from Nitria, taking her flight to heaven, escorted 
by a multitude of celestial spirits. As an instance of 
his great favor with God, and how great a lover he 
was of modesty and purity, St. Athanasius relates, that 
upon a certain occasion, when he was obliged, together 
with his disciple Theodore, a man also of great sanc 
tity to pass over the river Lycus, then swelled by sud 
den rains, he desired Theodore to retire, and keep at a 
distance whilst he put off his garments, that they might 
not behold each other naked ; but whilst he was think 
ing to strip, he felt a great repugnance to divest him 
self, through modesty and shame of seeing his own 
naked flesh, when behold, being on a sudden seized 
with an extacy or trance, he found himself on the 
other side of the river, without knowing how he came 
thither. Theodore coming up, was surprised to find 
he had been so expeditious in passing the river, and 
the more so, as he could perceive no marks of moisture 
either on his feet or garments, and did not cease to 
Importune him to let him know how it happened, 

ST. AMMON. 161 

which he i efused, till after he had promised to keep 
the matter a secret as long as Ammon should live. 
Though this Theodore be different from St. Theodore, 
the disciple of St. Pachomius, yet he has deserved no 
less than he, by his extraordinary virtues, a place 
amongst the saints, with whom his name stand* 
enrolled in the Roman Marty rology on the seventh 
of January. 

Rutinns, in his Lives of the Fathers, chap. 30, and 
Palladius, in his Historia Lausiaca, chap. 3, relate 
several other instances of the grace, miracles, and pro 
phetic spirit of St. Ammon. Whilst he lived retired 
in the wilderness, a youth, who had been bit by a 
mad dog, was brought to him bound in chains in a 
frantic condition. His parents, who accompanied him, 
begged that the Saint, who at this time was renowned 
for miracles, would cure him. " You demand that of 
me which far exceeds my merits ; but thus much," 
said he, " I will tell you, if you restore the poor widow 
the ox you have privately stolen, your son shall be 
healed." They were frightened as well as astonished, 
when they heard him speak of the theft, which they 
were sensible he could not know but by revelation. 
However, having made the restitution which was re 
quired, the young man, at the prayer of the servant 
of God, was perfectly cured. 

On another occasion, when two men, who had com 
to visit him in his solitude, found that he stood in nee** 

162 ST. AMMON. 

of a large vessel to keep water for the use of such aa 
resorted to him, they promised to bring him a vessel 
sufficiently capacious for that purpose ; the one being 
master of a camel, the other of an ass. The former, 
after his return home, repented of his promise, and told 
bis companion that he would not risk the life of his 
camel by loading him with so heavy a burthen. Well, 
said the latter, rather than be worse than my word, I 
will venture to lay upon my ass the load which you 
&ay would kill your camel ; trusting that the merits of 
the man of God will make that possible which appeal s 
impossible. Having done as he said, the ass carried 
the vessel with as much ease as if he felt no burthen 
whatever. When he came to the cell, the Saint com 
mended his faith, and told him that his neighbor had 
in the mean while lost his camel by death : and ac 
cordingly, on his return home, he found that whilst he 
was on his way to the Saint, the camel had been wor 
ried and killed by wolves. 

As to the disciples of St. Ammon, as well as the 
monks his successors in the congregation of mount 
Nitria, they were for a long time after so renowned 
for their regular discipline, hospitality and charity, that 
Rufinus and Palladius, from their own experience, who 
had been some time among them, hesitate not to be 
stow on them the highest encomiums. St. Jerome 
also, as we learn from his apology against Rufinus, 
made a journey on purpose to visit them. u I went," 

ST. AMMON. 163 

says he, " to Egypt to survey the monasteries of Ni- 
tria, and plainly perceived some asps lurking auongst 
the choirs of the saints," alluding to the errors of 
Origen, which had crept in amongst some of the re 
ligious. We also learn from the authors above-named, 
that as soon as they and their companions were come 
within sight of the monasteries, the religious, accord 
ing to their custom, came out to meet them, bringing 
loaves of bread and pitchers of water to refresh them, 
after the fatigue of their journey over those burning 
sands ; that then they conducted them to the church, 
singing psalms, where, after washing and wiping their 
feet, they contended which of them should introduce 
them into their cells, and there entertain them not 
only with all offices of humanity and charity in their 
power with regard to their corporal refreshment, but 
also with excellent lessons of spirituality for the bene 
fit of their souls ; in which they particularly inculcated 
die practice of their favorite virtues of humility and 
meekness, in which they themselves singularly ex 

For the entertainment of strangers and foreigners, 
they had built a large hospital near to the church, 
where all that came were welcome to stay as long as 
they pleased, although it were for two or three years,* 
vet so, that after the first seven days they were em 
ployed in some kind of work, as all the monks were ; or 
at least if they were persons of note, in reading such 

164 8T. AMMOX. 

good books as they put in their hands. They were 
also to have no conversation together, but to keep 
silence at least till noon. As to the afternoon, about 
the ninth hour, "one might stand," says Palladius. 
chap. 7, "and hear in every one of the monasteries 
the religious singing hymns and psalms to Christ, and 
joining prayers with their hymns in so sweet and me 
lodious a manner, that one would be apt to think him 
self elevated on high, and translated into a heavenly 

About ten miles from Nitria, further on in the 
wilderness, there was a place named Cellia, from the 
multitude of cells that lay every where dispersed up 
and down. Here such of the Nitrian monks as aspir 
ed after greater solitude and perfection made them 
selves cells, in which they lived as anchorets, at a good 
distance from each other ; never conversing together, 
or seeing one another, but when they met twice a 
week at church, unless the case of sickness, or some 
office of charity, required that any one should visit 
the cell of another, or break in upon his silence and 
solitude. In this place, charity, piety, and sanctitv, 
were seen to reign in the utmost perfection. 

St. Amiiion passed to a better life on the fourth of 
October, on which day he is commemorated in the 
Menologies of the Greeks, about the middle of the 
fourth century. 



From Rufmus, chap. 31, and Palladius, chap. 28 

PAUL, surnamed the Simple, from his innocent sim 
plicity, was, by his education, a plain honest husband 
man, who had led a blameless life to the age of sixty, 
in a married state, when, upon a certain occasion, hav 
ing caught his wife in adultery, he resolved to forsake 
both her and the world ; and after travelling eight 
days into the wilderness, addressed himself to St. 
Antony, requesting he would receive him into the 
number of his disciples, and teach him the way to 
save his soul. St. Antony told him he was now too 
old to think of becoming a monk, and that he could 
never be able to support the difficulties and austerities 
of a monastic life, especially in his eremitical way : 
" but go," said he, " into the village, and there employ 
yourself in working for your bread, and praising God :" 
and having said this, he went in and shut his cell. 
Paul nevertheless, continued fasting and praying at 
the door during three days and three nights, till An 
tony, at length seeing his faith and perseverance, came 
out cind told him, that the way to salvation was obe 
dience, and that if he would be his disciple, he must 
do all that he said to him ; to which Paul readily 
gave his assent, and made good his word, by comply 


ing to a title with every injunction of the Saint, how 
difficult or irrational soever it seemed to be. Antony, 
in order to try him, imposed upon him a variety of 
labors, mortifications, and humiliations, till at length 
he found him to be a man entirely humble, simple, 
and quite according to his own heart. He gave him 
therefore a rule of life which he should follow, and 
after some time ajfpointed him a cell, at the distance 
of three miles from his own, where he frequently visit 
ed him ; teaching him to spend his solitary hours in 
such a manner, as that whilst his hands were at work, 
his heart should be in heaven : and as to his corporal 
sustenance, he directed him never to eat or drink till 
evening, and even then with such moderation as never 
to satisfy his appetite, especially in his drink, though 
his beverage was nothing but water. 

By following these rules, but more particularly by a 
constant and fervent application of his soul to God in 
mental prayer, Paul quickly arrived at great perfection 
in all virtues ; amongst which his obedience, as well 
as his humility, were particularly remarkable. One 
day, when many religious were assembled with St. 
Antony, conferring about spiritual matters, on making 
frequent mention of the prophets, Paul, who was one 
of the company, according to his simplicity, asked 
whether the prophets lived before or since the time of 
our Saviour? St. Antony, by way of reproving his 
putting such an absurd question, made a nod to him, 


saying : 0, hold your peace. Paul, who had pre 
viously resolved to obey every word that Antony said 
to him, as if it. had been an oracle from God himself, 
immediately departed to his cell, and kept there so 
trict a silence, that he would not upon any occasion 
tter so much as a single word ; till Antony hearing 
of it, desired him to speak, and asked him the mean 
ing of his long silence ? " Why father," said he, " i 
was in obedience to you : for you bid me go and hold 
my peace." St. Antony took occasion from hence to 
say to the rest of his disciples : " This man condemns 
us all ; for whereas we are so often wanting in our 
obedience to our great Master, who speaks to us from 
heaven ; he always scrupulously observes every single 
word, of what kind soever he hears from my mouth." 
By these large steps of obedience and humility, 
Paul advanced rapidly towards God, and was reward 
ed by him with such admirable gifts and graces, as to 
work even more and greater miracles than St. Antony 
himself; insomuch that this holy abbot used to send 
such possessed persons to Paul as he himself could 
not cure. An instance of which is thus recorded by 
Palladius. A young man, possessed by a most furi 
ous and obstinate devil, being brought to Antony, he 
told the people, that this evil spirit was one of the 
principal demons, and that the power of casting them 
out: was not as yet given to him, but to the humble and 
simple Paul. Having therefore himself conducted 


him to Paul, he said : " Here cast out the devil from 
this man, that he may return home and glorify God." 
"Why don t you do it yourself?" said Paul. "I 
have something else to do," replied Antony, and so 
hastened back to his cell. Paul fell prostrate in 
prayer, and then rising up said to the devil, in his 
innocent way, " Get thee gone out of the man : father 
Antony says thou must go out." The devil called 
him a foolish old man, and told him he would not : 
and when he urged him a second time, repeating 
again that Antony said he must out, he abused both 
him and Antony, calling them by contemptuous 
names, and still refused to depart. " If thou wilt 
not go out," said Paul, "I will go and tell Jesus 
Christ, and it shall be worse for thee." The devil 
broke out into blasphemies against Christ, and obsti 
nately kept his hold. The holy man therefore went 
out of his cell, in the broiling heat of the sun at noon 
day (which, in Egypt, says my author, is not unlike 
the Babylonian furnace), and standing upon a rock, 
addressed his prayer to Jesus Christ crucified, protest 
ing in his simplicity, that he would neither come down 
from the rock, nor eat or drink, till he was pleased to 
hear him, and to force the devil out of the man 
when, behold, whilst he was at prayer, the devil roar 
ed out, " I go, I go, I suffer violence, this is an intol 
erable tyranny ; I am departing from the man, never, 
never more to return. It is Paul s humility and sim- 


plicity casts me out : I know not whither 1 must go." 
With these words the man was presently delivered ; 
and as a token of the devil s departure, a serpent of 
an unusual length was seen at the same time to crawl 
towards the red sea. 

Many other still greater miracles were wrought by 
the prayers of this Saint ; but what is related of him 
in an ancient author, published by Rosweydus, in the 
7th book of the Lives of the Fathers, c. 23. is still 
more admirable; viz. that he had received the gift 
from God, of reading in the countenances of the 
brethren their very thoughts, and the whole state of 
their souls. Thus, one day, whilst the religious were 
entering into the church, he saw all of them go in 
with a great serenity and brightness on their counte 
nance, attended by their good angels full of joy, except 
one who appeared black and gloomy, having on either 
side of him a devil, who held him with a bridle, 
whilst his good angel followed behind at a distance, 
and appeared sad and sorrowful. The man of God, 
on seeing this, spent the whole time they were at 
church in weeping and lamenting for his soul, wt;ch 
he understood to be in the deplorable ^tate of morUl 
*in ; but on looking at him when they came out 
again, he found him quite changed, his countenance 
now bright and beautiful, his good angel rejoicing, 
and the devils standing at a distance, grieving for 
having lost their prey. At the sight of this wonder- 


ful change, the Saint could not contain his joy, but 
broke out into the praises of God, extolling aloud the 
wonders of his mercy, manifested in behalf of poor 
sinners. Having related what he had seen, he earn 
estly entreated the converted monk, for the glory of 
God, and the edification of his brethren, to declare 
what change he had experienced in his interior, which 
could occasion the sudden and wonderful alteration he 
had remarked in his exterior. In compliance with 
the request of the Saint, he publicly confessed, that 
his soul had been, through a habit of impurity, in a 
most wretched condition, but that upon hearing those 
words, of God, by the prophet Isaias, read in the 
church, (Be clean, take away the evil of your devices 
from my eyes, cease to do perversely, learn to do well, 
and then if your sins be as red as scarlet, they shall 
be made white as snow. If you be willing, and ivill 
hearken to me, you shall eat the good things of the 
land ; but if you will not, and will provoke me to 
wrath, the sword shall devour you, because the mouth 
of the Lord hath spoken it), he found himself not 
only strongly affected with a sense of the heinousness 
of his sins, had a horror and compunction for them, 
joined with a great love of the infinite goodness and 
mercy of God, but had also firmly resolved on the 
spot to renounce his evil ways, and dedicate himself 
henceforward in good earnest to the love and service 
of so good a God ; ail 1 that this had been the sub 


|ect of his thoughts and prayers during the -whole 
time he was in church. Upon this declaration of 
their penitent brother, all the monks that were pres 
ent magnified the mercies of God, who so readily for 
gives the greatest sinners, when, like the prodigal son, 
they return to him with a contrite and humble heart 
Whilst this whole passage, as recorded by our author, 
is an instance of the wonderful efficacy of a perfect 
contrition, in the speedy reconciliation it effects between 
the sinner and God, it shows at the same time the 
wonderful efficacy of the prayers and tears of our 
Saint, which procured for this sinner the effectual 
grace of a perfect contrition. 

St. Paul the Simple is registered amongst the saints 
in the Roman Martyrology on the seventh of March. 


From. Rufinua, chap. 28. Pa ladius, chap. 19, 20, and 
other ancient Records. 

THE lustre of the sanctity and miracles of this Saint 
shine forth in an extraordinary manner in the history 
of the primitive religious of the deserts of Egypt, 
Besides one of the same name who attended on St 
Antony the last fifteen years of his mortal life, sup- 


posed o be one of the two disciples that buried him, 
of whom we know few other particulars, there were 
also two others greatly celebrated by antiquity for 
their sanctity and miracles, each of them cotempora- 
ries with, if not also disciples of St. Antony, and both 
honored with the priestly character : the elder, by some 
authors sirnamed the Egyptian and the younger, the 
Alexandrian, from the former being a native of Egypt, 
and the latter of Alexandria. 

Macarius the Elder, or the Egyptian, was born 
about the year 300. Being as yet a youth, he retired 
into a cell near his village, where he began to serve 
God with such perfection as to be held in the highest 
estimation by the whole neighborhood, and thought 
worthy to be promoted by his bishop to the minor 
orders. But his humility, seeking to decline the office 
and ministry of a clerk, induced him to retire to a dis 
tant solitude, where he might be at liberty, without let 
or hinderance, to practice an anchoretical life; work 
ing with his hands for his subsistence, whilst his heart 
was in the mean time conversing with God. Here a 
certain secular, of a religious disposition, observing the 
penitential life he led, came in order to minister to 
him, and assist him in selling his baskets. But as 
great trials, in one shape or other, are commonly the 
attendants or forerunr.ers of the most eminent sancti 
ty, Macarius met with a very severe one, upon the fol 
lowing occasion. 


A. young woman in the neighboring village was un 
happily seduced and corrupted by a fellow of the neigh 
borhood. On being found with child by her parents 
and friends, and interrogated concerning the person 
that had corrupted her, she by the suggestion of /he 
devil, said it was by that hermit who passed for a 
Saint, meaning Macarius. Upon this the whole town 
Avas in an uproar, and going out, they dragged the 
servant of God out of his cell into the village, where, 
hanging pots and pans about his neck, they led him 
through all the highways, crying aloud to all they 
met : " This hermit is the villain that has seduced our 
girl;" beating him at the same time in so unmerciful 
a manner, that it was expected he would have died 
under their hands ; nor did they desist, till at the re 
monstrances of an old man whom they met, they con- 
Dented to let him go, provided any responsible person 
would become a surety for his maintaining the girl and 
her child. His friend who had followed him all the 
way, and been insulted on his account, for having 
given testimony before to his sanctity, undertook to be 
responsible for him ; and having delivered him out of 
their hands, brought him back to his cell, where he 
was now obliged to redouble his labors night and day 
in making baskets, in order to have wherewithal not 
only to procure food for himself, but also to furnish a 
maintenance for the unhappy woman by whom he had 
been thus basely calumniated. He bore this heavy cross 


with wonderful cheerfulness till the time the young 
woman fell in labor, and suffered such extraordinary 
pains for several days, without being able to be deliv 
ered, as brought her to a sense of her crime, when she 
acknowledged the wrong to Macarius, and declared 
who was the real father of the child. This gladsome 


news having presently come to the ears of the good 
man, the friend of the Saint, he ran with great joy 
to announce to him the joyful tidings, adding, that all 
the people were coming out to beg his pardon for the 
wrong they had done him. Macarius, on hearing this, 
being more afraid of honor than of humiliations and 
disgrace, would not wait for their coming, but present 
ly withdrew himself into the desert of Scete, or Scithi, 
being then about thirty years of age. 

This desert, in which no man had dwelt before, was 
of a vast extent, but so destitute of all the necessaries 
of life, that it was hard to meet with even a drop of 
water among the burning sands, and the little that 
could be found, was of so very disagreeable a taste and 
smell, as to render it unfit for use. Hither Macarius 
went, by divine inspiration, to seek a solitude, to which 
no way nor path conducted ; and here he began to 
lay the foundation of that sublime perfection to which 
God afterwards raised him, and to which many rthera 
were raised by his means, who, in process of time, 
followed him into this frightful wilderness, and put 
themselves under his discfoline, whose number, in a 


short time, became very consideraUe, and amongst 
whom were several eminent saints ; for such was the 
general character of the solitaries of Scete, for the 
austerity and sanctity of their lives, that they were 
Wked upon by all the rest as models of religious per- 
ection. Macarius had been -about ten years in this 
desert, when the number of the brethren increasing, 
it was thought necessary that a priest should be or 
dained for them, to feed them both with the word of 
God and the holy sacraments ; on which occasion the 
Saint was obliged to accept of the priestly order and 
to execute its functions amongst his religious ; being 
already so far favored by divine grace, as to have re 
ceived from God the power of casting out evil spirits, 
and of working other wonderful miracles, together 
with the spirit of prophecy, and a foreknowledge of 
future events. 

As an instance of his prophetic spirit, Palladius re 
lates how he often forewarned his disciple John against 
the spirit of covetousness, telling him, that if he did 
not mortify his unhappy inclination to worldly pelf, 
as he labored under the vice of Giezi, so he should 
incur the punishment of Giezi. Which happened ac- 
sordingly, when fifteen or twenty years after the 
Saint s death, appropriating to himself what should 
have been given to the poor, he was struck with the 
leprosy in so terrible a manner, that there was not one 
Kwn.1 place to be discovered in his body. The same 


author relates also several instances of bis power over 
evil spirits, in casting them out, and destroying their 
magical operations by bis prayers, as in the case of a 
woman that was bewitched in so strange a manner as 
to appear to herself and friends metamorphosed into 
a mare, but was delivered by the Saint s pouring upon 
her head some holy water which he had blessed. The 
Saint, on sending her home, admonished her never to 
neglect the public worship of the church, nor the fre- 
quentation of the sacraments ; for that the enemy 
could not have had this power over her, had she not. 
for five weeks, kept away from the sacred mysteries. 
Many were the miracles whereby God evinced the 
sancity of his servant Macarius, and some of them of 
the first magnitude. It happened that a murder was 
committed in one of the places bordering upon the 
wilderness wherein the man of God dwelt, and that 
an innocent man was accused thereof, who fled for re 
fuge to the cell of the Saint. The people having pur 
sued him, and found him, were for binding him, and 
carrying him off, in order to deliver him up to justice. 
The man strongly pleaded his own innocence, protest 
ing by all that was sacred, that he knew nothing of 
the murder ; whilst they, on the contrary, insisted 
upon taking him away, alledging, that they should be 
called to an account themselves if they let him escape, 
Macarius having enquired where they had buried the 
murdered man, accompanied them to the place, when 


fcaeeling down by the grave, and invoking the name 
of Jesus Christ, he said to the standers by ; " The 
Lord will now show whether this man be guilty or 
not." Then raising his voice, he called on the dead 
man by his name, and conjured him, in the name of 
Christ, to tell whether this was the man that had mur 
dered him ; when Behold, a tremendous loud voice 
was heard to issue from the grave, declaring that he 
was not the man. Upon this all the by-standers, 
struck with dread and astonishment, fell prostrate on 
the ground, at the feet of the man of God, earnestly 
requesting that he would put one question more to 
the deceased, to learn from him by whom it was that 
he had been murdered. "No," replied the Saint, "it 
is enough for me to clear the innocent ; it is not my 
business to detect the guilty ; for who knows, if he be 
suffered to live longer, but he may have the grace to 
do penance for his crime ? " 

A certain heretic of the sect called Hieracites, a 
branch of the Manichean heresy, coming into the wil 
derness, endeavored not only to corrupt the brethren, 
with his captious arguments, but had the temerity 
also to attack Macarius upon the score of his faith in 
the presence of many of the religious, and to oppose 
to the solidity of the Saint s reasonings from m 
Scripture, delivered with his usual meekness ana sim 
plicity, a number of such frothy words and soDhisma 
as are but too apt to impose upon the weak and ignr* 


rant. Wherefore the man of God, apprehending lest 
the faith of the by-standers should be endangered on 
this occasion, proposed instead of contend not in 
words, for it is to no profit, but to the subversion 
of the hearers, 2 Tim. ii. 14. that they should ^o 
out to the burying place of the religious, and j-iU 
the cause upon this issue,, viz. that he who covld 
raise a dead man to life should be acknowledged to 
be the teacher of God s truth, and consequently tlrvt 
his faith should be followed. This proposal beirg 
universally applauded, the heretic consented, provided 
that Macarius should be first to make the trial. When 
therefore they had arrived at the cemetery the Saint 
prostrating himself on one of the graves, employed 
some time in silent prayer ; and then lifting up his 
eyes to heaven, he said : " Be pleased, Lord, to 
make it manifest to all here present, which of us twc 
holds the right faith, by restoring this dead man tc 
life." With this having called the brother that had 
been last buried by name, he presently answered ; 
and upon opening the grave, by removing all the 
earth that was laid upon him, was taken out alive anc* 
presented to the man of God, to the great astonish 
ment as well as confusion to the heretic, who immedi 
ately fled away, and never durst show his face any 
more in Scete. 

But let us pass from the miracles of Macarius to 
bis virtues. We find the eminent sanctity for which 


he has been so justly admired by all succeeding ages. 
was built upon its true foundation, viz. a knowledge 
and contempt of himself, united with a profound hu 
mility, which was always apparent by his ever joyful 
ly embracing humiliations, and flying from honors 
and applause. Those were always his most welcome 
guests who abused or ridiculed him most ; to such he 
more freely opened himself, whereas he was ever silent. 
and reserved with those who came, as many did, to 
hear him speak of the things of God, or showed him 
any particular marks of honor or esteem : this was so 
generally known and observed that at length such as 
came with a desire to hear his heavenly lessons, would 
on purpose, begin their conversation, by telling him 
the many ridiculous or wicked things of which they 
had heard him to have been guilty in his youth, and 
then they were sure to please him best. The devil 
himself was obliged to acknowledge that it was the 
humility of the Saint, and not his extraordinary aus 
terities, that had kept him hitherto out of his reach. 
Having appeared to him one day, as he was returning 
to his cell, laden with palm-leaves for his work he en 
deavored, but was not able, to strike him with a 
sharp scythe which he held in his hand. Upon which 
he cried out : " It is a hard case, Macarius, that i 
should suffer so much from thee, and yet not be able 
to hurt thee : whereas in point of fasting and watch 
ing 1 , I do a great ieal mo.-e than thou dost ; fa 


though thou fastest and watchest often, yet sometimes 
thou eatest and sleepest ; but as to me, I never eat, 
nor close my eyes to sleep. Nevertheless, I acknowl- 
ed^e there is one thing in which thou overcomest 
me." " What is it ?" said the Saint, "Thy humili 
ty," replied the devil : " Oh ! there is nothing else 
conquers me." Whereupon the Saint, having stretch 
ed forth his hand to heaven in prayer, the enemy 
presently vanished. 

The humility of the Saint was ever accompanied 
with an extraordinary meekness : as these two sister- 
virtues generally walk hand in hand. By this his ex 
traordinary meekness he wrought greater wonders, in 
conducting souls to God, than by any of his other 
miracles. An instance hereof appears in the case of 
a pagan priest, who having been incited to fury, by 
the contemptuous treatment he had met with from 
one of the religious, was not only appeased, but gain 
ed over on the spot to Jesus Christ, by the mildness 
and sweetness wherewith he was treated by St. Ma- 
carius : insomuch, that he immediately quitted the 
world to become a religious man, and gave occasion, 
by his example, to the conversion of many other 

The humility of Macarius was also accompanied 
with a wholesome fear of the divine justice, together 
with a deep sense of, arid an extraordinary compunc 
tion for his sins, which continued with him even to 


the end of his life. In proof whereof, we read, that 
shortly before his death, when the monks of Nitria 
invited him to corne over to their mountain that they 
might receive his blessing before he departed to tho 
Lord, declaring, that otherwise they would all come 
in a body to visit him ; he complied indeed with their 
request ; but when the multitude of the brethren 
were assembled about him, expecting to hear the word 
of God from his mouth, instead of a sermon, he en 
tertained them with a flood of tears, saying : " Let ua 
weep, rny brethren, let us weep whilst we have time. 
Let torrents of tears flow from our eyes to wash away 
the stains of our sins, before we depart hence into 
another world, where our tears will come too late, and 
only serve to nourish the flames of our torments." 
At these words, accompanied by the tears of the 
Saint, all the congregation wept, and cast themselves 
down on the ground, to beg the assistance of hk 

A certain brother desiring to know from the Saint 
how he might secure the salvation of his soul : " Fly," 
said the man of God, " from the company of men 
keep cl^e to thy cell, and there weep continually for 
thy sins t and as the best penance for them, be equally 
careful to <nortify thy tongue by keeping silence, as 
thy belly, by fasting and abstinence." To the like 
effect he s"vld one day to the brethren as they were 
coming out of church after mass : " Fly, my brethren, 



fly." " Whither, father," said one of them, " wouldst 
thou have us fly ? can we go farther from the world 
than we are at present in this vast solitude ? " The 
Saint put his finger to his tongue, and said, I mean 
that we should fly from this ; and saying no more, he 
entered into his cell, and there remained in silence and 

The prayers of St. Macarius were in a manner in 
cessant, particularly in the mental and contemplative 
way. He is said to have been often almost in an ec 
stasy, ravished as it were out of himself, and for tho 
greatest part of his time entertaining himself with God 
in so absolute a state of insensibility, as to forget every 
created object. That he might apply himself with 
more freedom to God in prayer, he had made a pas 
sage under ground from his cell, to a certain cave at 
about half a furlong distance, to which he frequently 
retired, and there kept himself concealed from all other 
company, to the end he might be alone with God, 
free from the interruption of the visits of the many 
strangers who resorted to him on account of the great 
reputation of his sanctity. He had, during five years, 
been pressed by frequent thoughts to proceed further 
iuto the desert to try what he should there discover ; 
but as it was his maxim to do nothing rashly, he ex 
amined well these suggestions, lest they should prove 
to be temptations. The inclination, however, still con 
tinuing, he concluded it to be God s holy will, and ac- 


tordingly following the call, he penetrated into the re 
mote parts of the wilderness, where he found a lake 
of water, and in it a small island, inhabited by two 
solitaries, who had dwelt there for the space of forty 
years, quite secluded from the conversation of mortals, 
and in so great a state of perfection, that Macarius, 
after having seen and conversed with them, according 
to his humble way of thinking of himself, professed 
to the religious of Nitria, who had some time after re 
quested he would deliver a discourse of edification in 
the monastery of Abbot Pambo, " that for his part he 
was not worthy to be called a monk, but that he had 
seen monks indeed : and that the lesson he had learnt 
of them was, that to be a monk indeed, a man must 
absolutely renounce every thing in this world, and 
that if he thought himself too weak to practice this 
renunciation, in the manner they did, he should return 
back to his cell, there to sit and bewail his sins." 

The zeal that Macarius had for his own spiritual 
advancement, carried him also another time a fifteen 
days journey from the desert of Scete, to visit St. An 
tony, then residing on his mountain. When he ar 
rived with his strength quite exhausted by the fatigue 
of his long travelling through those burning sands, IIP, 
knocked at the door of the Saint s cell : Antony com 
ing forth, asked him who he was ? and upon his an 
swering that he was Macarius, he went in again, and 
abut the door ; for although he had a great desire fol 


A long time to see him, knowing his extraordinary 
sanctity, yet he was willing to make this trial of his 
patience and humility. Macarius remained at tho 
door till Antony, thinking he had now sufficiently put 
his patience to a trial, opened it to him ; and having 
lovingly embraced him, entertained him with the best 
that his cell could afford. In the evening, Antony 
prepared a certain quantity of the leaves of palm- 
trees for himself to work on at making of mats ; Ma- 
cariiiS) was ever a lover of manual labor, and hated 
idleness, desired to be employed in the same manner ; 
and thus having sat down together, whilst they worked 
with their hands, they entertained each other with 
heavenly discourses and the praises of their great Mas 
ter. In the morning Antony was surprised to behold 
the quantity of matting that Macarius had made dur 
ing the night ; and taking his hands he kissed them, 
affirming, that there was much virtue in them. I 
know not whether it -was upon this, or some other oc 
casion, that he saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Ma 
carius ; for I find it recorded of St. Antony, that he 
himself declared he had seen the Holy Ghost descend 
upon three eminent servants of God, who in their lives 
appeared to be in an extraordinary manner replenished 
with his graces, and that these three were, St, Atha- 
uasius, St. Pachomius, and St. Macarius. 

As to the penitential exercises practised by St. Ma 
carius and his disciples the solitaries of Scete, they aj> 


pear more the objects of our admiration than of our 
imitation, especially in the point of fasting ; for we 
read in some ancient writers, that it was their custom 
to eat but once in the week ; but as to St. Macarius 
himself, he told his disciple Evargius upon occasion of 
his complaining of a violent thirst which he felt in the 
excessive noonday heat of the Egyptian climate, that 
for his own part he had never for twenty years sat 
isfied, himself either in point of eating, or drinking, 
or sleeping; that he always weighed out the small 
quantity of bread he eat ; that he always drank his 
water by measure ; and instead of lying down, leaned 
always against a wall, when he stole, as it were, the 
little sleep which he could not absolutely dispense 

But if he was so perfectly mortified in his eating, 
drinking and sleeping, we may truly say he was as 
much, or more so with respect, not only to his pas 
sions, but his whole interior, and that he himself prac 
tised diligently the excellent lessons he had so often 
taught his disciples. He used frequently to say, that 
he only was a true monk, who overcame himself in all 
things : that the way to escape the death of the soul 
fey sin, was to receive and embrace contempt like 
praise, poverty like riches, and hunger and ivant, like 
plenty and feasting. A young man having once ad 
dressed himself to our Saint, desiring to learn of him 
the practice of religious perfection, he sent him to * 


place where there were a great many dead bodies, and 
bid him treat them with reviling, scornful language, 
and such other like affronts and injuries, and even to 
pelt them with stones to try if he could provoke them 
to passion. Having done as he was ordered, when he 
returned back, the Saint asked him how the dead had 
received all those outrages, and what they had said ? 
He answered that they had said nothing. On the 
day following he sent him again, and bid him treat 
them with honor, with fine speeches and commenda 
tions, and then see how they would behave ; and as 
they still remained equally insensible both to his good 
and mal-treatment, the Saint told him, that if he would 
be a perfect religious man, he must follow their ex 
ample, and neither suffer himself to be provoked to 
anger or resentment by ill treatment, nor to be puffed 
up with the esteem or praises of men, but always to 
have his eye on Jesus Christ, and seek to please him 

St. Macarius had now arrived at the age of seventy- 
six, when a violent persecution was raised against all 
the religious by Lucius the Arian, who, after the death 
of St. Athanasius, had usurped the see of Alexandria, 
by the fav\x of the emperor Valens. This unhappy 
man, finding the monks in general averse to his wick 
ed tenets, and the people very much influenced by 
their example, to adhere to the catholic faith, led out 
a multitude of soldiers into the deserts, in order ta 


oblige these servants of God, by all manner of cruel 
ties, to renounce the ancient faith. A great number 
of the solitaries of mount Nitria were martyred on this 
occasion, and a vast multitude of other religious, to 
gether with many bishops, priests, and deacons, were 
Bent into banishment. Amongst these were Macarius, 
and his name-sake, the other St. Macarius, of Alexan 
dria, St. Isidore, of Scete, and St. Pambo, the holy 
abbot of Nitria ; who, by the orders of Lucius, were 
taken out of their cells privately in the night, and car 
ried away into a certain island in E^ypt, which was 
inhabited only by pagans, to the end that they might 
have no opportunity of exercising their priestly func 
tions, nor meet with any comfort or support from any 
one. There was in this island an ancient temple of 
the devils, for which the inhabitants had so great a 
veneration, that it was this that kept them in their 
idolatry. But behold the wonders of God ! as soon 
as the boat that brought the saints thither drew near 
the land, the devils who inhabited the temple were all 
in an uproar, and one of them presently entered into 
the daughter of the priest of the temple, whom the 
people venerated almost as much as their god, and 
caused in her strange and violent agitations and con 
tortions, accompanied with such loud shrieks and cries 
as reached the very heavens, and drew all the people 
about her. In this condition she ran about amongst 
the people, falling down sometimes and rolling herseli 


on the ground, foaming and gnashing with her teeth, 
till all of a sudden she was lifted up into the air, and 
carried to the place where the saints by this time were 
set on shore, the people all following to see what would 
become of her. Here she fell down at the feet of 
Macarius and his companions, and cried out (the 
devil speaking by her mouth, as he did heretofore by 
the girl at Philippi, Acts xvi.) " Ah ! ye servants of 
Jesus Christ, how terrible is your power ! ye servants 
of the great God, why do you come to drive us away 
from a place of which we have so long kept possession ! 
Here have we hidden ourselves, after we were expelled 
from the rest of the land ; for you have banished us 
from the towns and villages, from the mountains and 
hills, and even from the places where none before you 
durst inhabit. We expected to be quiet at least in 
this little island, in the midst of bogs and marshes, 
and now you come to deprive us of our last refuge," 
&c. Whilst the devil was uttering these and other 
similar words, by the mouth of the girl, the Saints, on 
their part, made use of the power their Lord had con 
ferred on them, and commanded the devil, by the sa 
cred and awful name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, 
to depart out from her ; whilst he, unable to resist, 
was immediately constrained to obey, and left the girl 
stretched out OL the ground as if dead. The Sainta 
prayed for her, and lifting her up from the ground, 
oresented her to her father in perfect health, both 01 


mind and body. Then taking occasion from what had 
passed, they began to preach Jesus Christ to the peo 
ple, already disposed, by the miracl.3 they had seen, 
to hearken to their words ; and so great was the bless 
ing God gave to their preaching, that instantly both 
the priest himself, with his daughter, and all his kin 
dred, cast themselves down at the feet of these new 
apostles, desiring to learn of them what they must do 
to be saved. All the people of the island, by their 
example, were immediately converted to Jesus Christ, 
and embraced the faith with so much fervor, that they 
presently demolished their temple which they had be 
fore so much revered built up a church in its place, 
and after proper instructions received baptism. Thus 
the expulsion of these servants of God contributed to 
the propagation and illustration of the faith for which 
they were banished, and to the confusion of their ene 
mies and persecutors, who, upon receiving the news 
of what had passed, gave orders to have them removed 
again out of the island, and privately conveyed back 
to their former solitudes. 

St. Macarius outlived this persecution many years ; 
and after having attained the age of ninety, sixty of 
which he spent in the wilderness, he passed to the en 
joyment of his God about the year 390 or 391. His 
name is recorded among the Saints in the Eoman Mar- 
tyrology on the fifteenth of January. 

There are extant in the Bibliotlieca SS. 


fifty homilies, or discourses of piety, which St. Maca- 
rius made to his religious on several occasions, truly 
worthy of his spirit and sanctity. 


From. Palladium, Bishop of Helenopolis, some time dis 
ciple of the Saint, Historia Lav.siaca, chap. 19,* 
and others 

ST. MACARIUS, commonly called the Alexandrian, to 
distinguish him from the other St. Macarius, of whom 
we have been just treating, was born at Alexandria 
about the beginning of the fourth century. In his 
younger days he endeavored to obtain an honest live 
lihood by selling fruit, sweetmeats, and such like wares, 
till being called by God to greater perfection, he for 
sook all things to follow Christ in an anchoretical life, 
and put himself under the direction of St. Antony, in 
srder to learn from so great a master the true science 
of the saints. The progress he made in this school oi 
grace, was so extraordinary, that he became qualified 
to instruct many others in the way of perfection, as 
St. Antony himself saw and acknowledged, when one 
day Macarius being with him, and asking him for 
some beautiful palm-branches, which ho kept for hia 


work, be told him it was written : Thou shall not 
covet thy neighbor s goods : at which words the palm- 
branches in an instant actually withered away, and 
grew quite as dry as if they had been touched by the 
fire, which St. Antony, seeing, told Macarius that he 
perceived the Spirit of God had taken up his abode ic 
his soul ; and that from this time forward he should 
look upon him as the heir and successor of all those 
graces and gifts which the divine bounty had bestow 
ed upon himself. 

Shortly after the devil seeing him in his wilderness 
exceedingly fatigued with travelling, and quite ex 
hausted for want of food, suggested to him, since you 
have received the grace of Antony, why do not you 
make use of his power, and ask the necessary supply 
of food and strength from God, that you may be en 
abled to pursue your journey ? The Saint replied : 
" The Lord is my strength the Lord is my glory ; 
but as for thee, Satan, be gone, and don t presume to 
tempt one that is determined to be the servant of his 
divine Majesty." The devil upon this assumed the 
shape of a camel that appeared to be wandering 
about the desert, laden with all kinds of necessaries 
for life, and coming up he stood near to the Saint, 
who suspecting it to be a diabolical illusion, prayed 
to God, and presently the phantom sunk into the 
earth, and disappeared. 

From the desert of Thebais, where St. Antony re 


sided, Macarius passed to that of Scete, and partly 
there ox on mount Nitria, or in the neighboring wil 
derness called Cellia, or the place of the cells, he 
spent the greatest part of his mortal life. In this last 
place he was, on account of his eminent sanctity, or 
dained priest, and in that quality had the charge of 
the church, and the superiority and direction of all the 
saintly souls that lived dispersed in separate cells 
throughout that holy solitude. Here his virtues shin- 

O " 

ed forth with such extraordinary lustre and miracles, 
as to make him be looked upon, both then and ever 
since, as one of the brightest lights of the Church of 
God in his time, and on that account he had also a 
great share in the persecution which fell in a particu 
lar manner upon the religious of these quarters, under 
Valens the Arian emperor ; when he was also, as we 
have seen above, sent into banishment with some 
other servants of God, who had miraculously convert 
ed the inhabitants of the island to which they were 
banished from idolatry to the faith of Christ. 

As to the employment of his time in these wilder 
nesses, we find he distributed it in such manner, ao 
to spend the best part of it in prayer, in which he ex 
ercised himself a hundred times in the space of every 
twenty-four hours ; another part-he dedicated to man 
ual labor, in order to obtain his livelihood : and the 
remainder he gave to those that came to consult him 
about the affairs of their souls, and to receive his in- 


structions. In the mean time, the austerities of tho 
penitential life to which he condemned himself were 
so great, that we may truly say, they were more to be 
admired than imitated. His fasts were long and rig 
orous : for seven years he never eat anything but 
raw herbs or pulse, moistened with cold water, with 
out bread, or any thing whatever that had come near 
the fire. For three years more he lived only upon 
four or five ounces of bread in the day, with water in 
proportion. Once, for the space of twenty days, ho 
labored to live without any sleep whatever ; and to 
this purpose, during all that time, he never entered 
under any cover, but exposed himself the whole day 
to the parching heat of the sun, and all the night 
abroad to the cold air, till unable to hold out any 
longer, he was at tength constrained to yield to na 
ture. At another lime, to punish himself for a small 
fault, or as others say, no fault, but to extinguish a 
temptation of the flesh, he condemned himself to 
pass six whole months in the marshes of Scete, in the 
remote parts of the dec<ert, infested, by a number of 
large gnats with stings like wasps ; by which, during 
his course of penance, he was so roughly treated, and 
stung in so terrible a manner, that at his return home 
his whole body appeared like that of a leper, and he 
could only be known by his voice. 

The reputation of the extraordinary austerities, and 
the excellent lives of the religious of Tabenna, under 



their holy founder St. Pachomius, inspired Macar- w 
with a desire of going- thither and joining their holy 
company, yet so as not to be known who or what he 
was. In order thereto, having changed his habit for 
the dress of a common laborer, he travelled fifteen 
days journey through the deserts till at length he ar 
rived at the monastery of Tabenna. Here calling for 
the Abbot St. Fachomius, he begged to be admitted 
amongst his monks. The abbot told him, that at his 
time of life he could not be able to conform himself to 
the austerities which were practised in his monastery, 
and therefore refused to admit him. Macarius how 
ever did not desist, but continued seven days at the 
gate, begging for admission, and fasting the whole 
time, till his perseverance prevailed with the abbot and 
community to receive him. Arid now the penitential 
time of Lent arrived, in which the religious assigned 
to themselves the particular exercises of devotion and 
penance in which they designed to pass that holy 
time : some of them resolving to eat but once in two 
days, others only twice in a week, others again, 
after spending the whole day in manual labor, propos 
ing to watch and pass the night in prayer without 
ever lying down to take their rest. Macarius for hi? 
part said nothing ; but gathering together a large pro 
vision of the leaves of the palm-trees for making mats, 
passed the whole time standing at work in a corner by 
himself, with his heart raised to God in silent prayer 


without once sitting down or leaning against any thing 
whatever. He eat only on the Lord s day, and thon 
nothing but some raw leaves of cabbage, without bread 
or any thing else, or even drinking any liquid whatso 
ever The rest of the religious observing him to prac 
tice these extraordinary austerities, began to murmur 
against their abbot for having admitted amongst them, 
for their condemnation, a man that seemed not to be 
made of flesh and blood ; whereupon St. Pachomius, 
who was frequently favored with divine revelations, 
applying himself to God in prayer, with a desire to 
know 7 who this person was that had passed the Lent 
in so extraordinary a manner, learnt from God that it 
was the Abbot Macarius, of whose sanctity he had 
heard so much. Whereupon taking him by the hand, 
and leading hirn into the chapel before the altar of 
the monastery, he said : " Is it then you, venerable 
Father ? Are you the celebrated Macarius, and would 
not let me know it ! As it is a long time since I have 
had a desire to see you, now I must return you thanks 
for the stay you have made amongst us, by which you 
have humbled my children, and taught them not to 
think much of their own austerities. You have suffi 
ciently edified us by your presence, I beg of you, there 
fore, to return home and pray for us." And thus dis 
missed the Saint, requesting him to go back to his 
former habitation. 

But if these rigorous penances and extraordinary 


austerities of St. Macarius may seem to be beyond the 
reach of our imitation, we cannot say as much with 
respect to the following instance of the spirit, as well 
of mortification as of charity, which both himself and 
his brethren showed upon a less occasion, as recorded 
in the history of his life. Some one having sent him 
a fine bunch of grapes at a time when he had a long 
ing desire after that kind of fruit, in order to exercise 
himself at once both in abstinence and charity, he sent 
them to another solitary, who being sick and infirm 
stood more in need of them. The good sick man, after 
thankfully receiving the present, which, had he follow 
ed his own inclinations, he would gladly have eaten, 
through the same spirit of mortification and charity, 
refrained from eating them, and sent them to a third 
who lived at some distance in the wilderness, the third 
again in like manner to a fourth ; and so on till they 
had passed from one to another of most of the inhabit 
ants of the cells dispersed through the desert, without 
any one ever tasting them. At length he who receiv 
ed them last, not knowing from whom they first came, 
and thinking they might be agreeable to their holy 
father, sent them to St. Macarius. The Saint perceiv 
ing the grapes to be the very same, and learning also 
upon inquiry through how many hands they had pass 
ed, gave God thanks for that spirit of abstinence and 
self-denial which his brethren had showed on this oc 
casion ; and for his own part was animated thereby to 


A greater fervor in all the exercises of a spiritual life, 
but nevertheless could not be induced to eat of the 
grapes himself. 

As to the miracles of our Saint, church history as 
sures us, that the two Saints Macarius were equally 
illustrious, not only for the works of faith, but also for 
the miraculous graces, and other supernatural gifts 
wherewith God favored them ; that they equally ex 
celled in the knowledge of the secrets of God, in the 
power they had to make themselves terrible to the 
devils, to cure diseases, and work all kinds of won 
ders. It is particularly recorded of our Saint, that he 
had an extraordinary grace in casting out unclean 
spirits, and delivering numbers that were either possess 
ed or assaulted by them. The tempter one day took 
occasion from thence to suggest to him thoughts of 
vain-glory, which tended to withdraw him from his 
solitude, under the specious pretext of doing good to 
many, and to carry him to Rome, that he might exer 
cise his talents in casting out devils, and curing all 
diseases in the capital of the universe. Macarius saw 
through the deceit, and strongly resisted the sugges 
tion : and as the temptation did not cease, but rather 
acquired additional strength, he laid himself prostrate 
on the threshold of his cell, and cried out to the demon 
of vain-glory, by whom he was tempted, that he would 
remain there till the evening ; and that if he would 
remove him from thence, it should be by main force, 


for that with his good will he would never go, 
violently soever he might tempt him. After sun-set 
finding the temptation returning again with more vio 
lence than ever, he took a large basket that held two 
bushels, and filling it with sand, laid it on his should 
trs, and being loaded in this manner, walked up and 
down in the desert. Theosebius, surnamed Cosmetor, 
a native of Antioch, having met him whilst he was at 
this exercise, said : " What is the meaning of this, holy 
father? Why do you thus torment yourself? Let 
me ease you of your burthen." Macarius replied : " I 
am plaguing one that is plaguing me : and who, see 
ing that I am lazy at home, will needs have me go 
and travel abroad :" and thus he continued carrying 
about his load of sand, till being quite wearied and 
spent, and all bruised with his burthen, he returned to 
his cell. 

As to the particulars of the many miracles wrought 
by St. Macarius, we shall not pretend to recount them 
here : we shall only take notice of one recorded by 
Palladius, of which he was an eye-witness. This* pre 
late relates, that being at that time himself a disciple 
of the Saint, he came one day to his cell, and found 
there lying before the door, a priest of a country pa 
rish, in the most wretched condition that can be ima 
gined ; his head being eaten in such a manner by a 
cancer, that a great part of his skull was seen quite 
bare. lie came hither to seek his cure from the 


Baint, who would take no notice of him whatsoever. 
Upon which Palladius going* in, began to intercede for 
him. The Saint answered, that he was unworthy to 
be delivered from this evil, which God had sent him 
for a punishment. " But," said he, " if you desire he 
should be cured, prevail on him to resolve never more 
to presume to approach the altar to celebrate the sa 
cred mysteries. For this punishment has been sent 
him on account of being guilty of acts of impurity, 
arid saying mass in that sinful condition." Palladius 
told the poor man what the Saint had said ; when 
upon his promising with an oath never more to exer 
cise any of the priestly functions, the Saint received 
him into his cell, and after he had confessed his sins, 
with a sincere resolution of never more returning to 
them, he laid his hands upon him, and in a few days 
ient him home perfectly cured and glorifying God. 

As to the other extraordinary gifts and graces of 
St. Macarius, it is recorded of him that he frequently 
s?;iw in spirit, not only the state of the souls of his re-. 
ligious at the time of their communion, but also their 
inward thoughts and dispositions in the time of prayer. 
One night the devil knocked at his cell, crying out ; 
" Arise, abbot Macarius, that we may accompany the 
brethren to midnight prayers." The Saint knowing, 
by the light of God, that it was the enemy, replied : 
" And what hast thou to do, O lying spirit, thou ene- 
aiy of all truth, with the assembly of the Saints, 01 


their night prayers ? " " Assure thyself, 
replied the devil, " that the religious never meet to 
pray without us : Come along, and thou shalt see/ 
The Saint having previously prayed to God that he 
might know whether what the devil vaunted of was 
true or not, went to the place where the brethren were 
assembled for the night office ; and at the time they 
were reciting the psalms, saw a number of these wick 
ed spirits in the shape of filthy blackamoors, running 
about the church, and playing a variety of tricks, with 
a view either to distract the religious, or overcome 
them with sleep ; and when, after the twelve psalms 
were ended, they prostrated themselves in silent prayer, 
he perceived how busy they were about them, repre 
senting to one the figure of a woman, to another a 
building or a journey, and to others a prodigious 
variety of such like phantoms and images. Now 
there were some of the brethren who seemed to drive 
them away by a superior force, and to fling them 
down upon their backs with so much violence that 
they durst not approach them any more ; whilst 
Dthers, more indolent and negligent, suffered them to 
ride upon their heads and shoulders, and to make a 
mockery of them at pleasure. The Saint being much 
moved with this spectacle, addressed himself to God, 
with many tears, in behalf of his religious, begging 
he would deliver them from all the snares and deceits 
of these spirits of darkness : using these words of the 


ruyK! prophet, Ps. Ixvii. Let God arise, a!-J let his 
enemies be scattered : and let them that hate him flee 
from before his face. After the prayers were ended, 
calling to him the brethren, he found upon enquiring 
of each one in particular that had been so distracted 
with those vain or wicked imaginations which tha 
Saint had seen represented to them by those blacks ; 
hence they came to understand that those distracting 
thoughts, which so often interrupt the attention and 
devotion of the soul at the divine office or other 
prayers, are illusions of the wicked spirit: and that 
the best way to repel them and keep them at a dis 
tance, is to watch over ourselves, and to keep our 
souls closely united to God by a fervent application of 
all its powers and faculties. 

It is also recorded of St. Macarius, that being one 
day in company with the other Saint of the same 
name, and obliged to pass over the Nile in a barge 
that served for that purpose, i\. happened that two 
tribunes or colonels were ferried over at the same 
time, each having a pompous equipage and great ret 
inue to attend him. These officers beholding the two 
Saints in their mean garb at one end of the barge, 
with all that sererity, recollection, and interior peace 
of mind, which seemed apparent in their faces, to 
gether with a sovereign contempt of all that this 
world admires, could not help extolling to each other 
the happiness of such a kind of life as that which 


these servants of God led. Accordingly one of them 
addressing himself to the Saints, said : " You are both 
happy, who are thus above the world, and tread it 
under your feet. You speak as if it were by a pro 
phetic light," replied our Saint, "in calling us kappy, 
for the name of both of us is Macarius, which in the 
Greek signifies happy. But if you have great reason 
to say, that they who have renounced all things else 
to consecrate themselves entirely to the service of God 
are happy, inasmuch as they tread the world under 
their feet, we have also great reason to compassionate 
your happiness, in being slaves to the world, and suf 
fering yourselves to be mocked by it." These words 
of the Saint made so deep an impression upon him, 
that on his return home he resigned his commission, 
distributed his substance to the poor, and quitting 
the world, embraced a solitary and religious life. 

We shall conclude our account of the life of St. 
Macarius with a remarkable history, recorded by St. 
Jerome, of a certain solitary of Nitria, who by the 
price of his work, which was making linen-cloth, had 
saved so much money, that when he died there was 
fijund by him the sum of one hundred crowns. The 
religious assembled on this extraordinary occasion to 
deliberate what should be done with the money; 
which some thought should be given to the poor or 
to the church, and others to the kindred of the de 
ceased. But Macarius, our Saint, Pambo, Isidore, and 


others who were called the fathers, being inspired bj 
the Holy Ghost, ordained that they should cast the 
money into the grave together with the corpse, repeat 
ing those words of St. Peter to Simon Magus, Keep ih* y 
fnoney to thyself, to perish with thee. And this whole 
some severity spread such a terror amongst all the 
religious of Egypt, that they looked upon it as a 
crime for any one of there +o leave so much as ono 
crown behind them after death. 

St. Macarius, after having served God for sixty years 
in a religious life, departed to our Lord about the year 
395. His name is registered in the Roman Marty r- 
ology on the second of January. 


WE join these two together, and give them a place 
immediately after St. Macarius, with whom, as we 
have seen above, they are joined by St. Jerome, as 
having been inspired by the Holy Ghost, and the most 
eminent in their days amongst the fathers of the des- 
wts ; with whom also, as well as with the otber St 
Macarius, they are celebrated by all our church histo 
rians, for the brave stand they made against the Avian 
heresy, under Valens the emperor ; the persecutions 
they suffered on this occasion, the emin^ce of their 


sanctity ; and finally, on account of the great signa 
and wonders which God wrought by them. They 
were each of them, for some time, disciples of St. An 
tony, and afterwards on account of their extraordinary 
virtues and merits, advanced to the priestly dignity 
and made chief superiors; Isidore of the relfgious of 
the desert of Scete, and Pambo of those of mount 

It is recorded of St. Isidore, that he received so sin 
gular a grace from God, and had so great a power and 
authority over evil spirits, that whenever any possessed 
persons were brought to him, they never failed to be 
delivered, even before they reached the door of his 
cell. The brethren having asked him one day, what 
could be the reason why the devils were so much afraid 
of him ; he alledged no other, than that from the time 
of his entering into religion he had made it his con 
stant endeavor not to suffer the passion of anger to 
rise up so high as to reach his tongue. As a proof 
of his zeal for suppressing in himself the least emotion 
to this passion, we are informed by an ancient writer, 
that having one day carried some little baskets to 
*narket for sale, upon meeting there with some provo 
cation, which began to excite in his heart emotions 01 
anger and wrath, he immediately flung down his bas 
kets, and ran back as fast as he could to the wilder 
ness. By this diligence in watching against, and sup 
pressing all the irregular motions and suggestions of 


his passions, and by the aid of incessant prayer, he 
attained so great a mastery over himself as to acknow 
ledge one day, to the greater glory of God, that fof 
the space of forty years, though he had often expe 
rienced the motions and suggestions of sin, he was not 
conscious to himself that he had ever given his volun 
tary consent, either to an irregular desire or the least 
emotion of wrath. 

From his first entering into religion, instead of set 
ting himself a task, as many did, of reciting daily a 
certain number of psalms or prayers, he chose rather 
to pray, without ceasing, night and day; and yet he 
was always so great a lover of manual labor, that after 
he was grown very old he could not be prevailed upon 
to give over working even at night; and when the 
brethren, upon these occasions, would sometimes beg 
that he would afford himself a little more rest, he re 
plied, that all he could do or suffer was nothing in 
comparison of what the Son of God had done and 
suffered for him, and he therefore thought he could 
never do nor suffer enough for the love of his Saviour. 
He one day addressed himself thus to the assembly 
*f the Solitaries of Scete : " Have we not retired 
hither, my brethren, in order to suffer many labors 
and pains in the body, by the means of which we may 
merit everlasting rest for our souls in heaven ; and yet 
how little do we suffer here at present ? For my part 
I think of taking my sheep-skin, and seeking some 


other place, where I may f.nd something more to suf 
fer." This he said, because at this time the number 
of those that resorted to this desert gave occasion to 
the introducing of certain conveniences of life, and 
some better accommodations than they had been ac 
customed to in the beginning, when they were in a 
manner quite destitute of every thing. 

" It is also recorded as a maxim of St. Isidore, 
" That the whole science of the Saints consists in 
knowing and following the will of God ; because then 
only can a man be perfect indeed, when raising him 
self above all other things he subjects himself to the 
eternal Truth and Justice. For since man was made 
after the image and likeness of God, who is that same 
eternal Truth and Justice, he cannot expect to meet 
with either perfection or happiness, only in a conform 
ity with his divine original. On the other hand, he 
said, that the most dangerous of all temptations was 
to follow the suggestions of our own hearts and 
thoughts, instead of the will of God ; that the plea 
sure which a man pretends to find in the gratification 
of his own inclinations is quickly changed into bitter 
ness, and leaves nothing behind but the regret of hav- 
\n<r been ignorant of the secret of true beatitude, and 

3 O 

of the way of the Saints. From whence he concludes, 
that the true way to happiness consists in being will 
ing to labor and take pains in the service of the Lord, 
tno in patiently suffering the short tribulations of this 


life, in order to secure the eternal salvation of OUT 

This Saint had also a special talent from God of 
healing the spiritual maladies of the religious when 
any of them were diseased in their souls ; insomuch 
that whenever it happened that the other superiors were 
for dismissing any of their subjects, on account of neg 
ligence, sloth fulness, impatience, passion, or other de 
fects, he desired they might be brought to him : when, 
by treating them with his usual charity, humility, and 
patience, he generally brought them to a right sense 
of their duty, and in time cured them effectually of 
all their vices and faults of what kind soever. 

When Theophilus was made patriarch of Alexan 
dria, anno 385, St. Isidore went thither to pay him a 
visit. On his return from thence to the wilderness, 
the brethren enquired of him, what news he brought 
from the city ? " I have seen nobody there," he re 
plied, " but the patriarch." Being much surprised at 
his answer, they asked him, " What then was become 
of the inhabitants of that great city ? Surely," said 
they, " they are not all swallowed up by an earth 
quake." This obliged him to explain himself, by let 
ting them know that he had kept so strict a guard 
over his eyes, as not to allow them to look upon any 

St. Isidore departed to our Lord shortly after, in a 
good old age, though the particular year is not known. 

208 ST. PAMBO. 

and his name stands recorded in the Roman Martyr 
ology on the fifteenth of January. 

Amongst several great men of the name of Isidore, 
there was another, a contemporary with our Saint, 
who was abbot in Thebais, over a thousand monks in 
great reputation for sanctity, and under such strict en 
closure that none of them were ever allowed to go 
out, nor any from abroad permitted to enter the mon 
astery, except he came to remain during life, never 
more to depart from it. They had gardens and wells 
within their own enclosure ; and when there was a 
necessity of any thing from abroad, two of the an 
cients were deputed to provide such necessaries, all 
the rest attending only to their regular exercises. 

But to come to St. Pambo : it is recorded of him, 
that being in his younger days a disciple of St. An 
tony, he desired his master to instruct him in the 
most efficacious manner of saving his soul ; St. An 
tony told him, that in order to do this, he must be 
careful to do true penance for his sins ; that he must 
never place any confidence whatsoever in his own 
righteousness ; that he must always endeavor to act 
in such manner, as to never after have any occasion 
to repent of what he had done ; and that in par 
ticular he must labour to put a restraint as well upon 
Lis tongue as upon his appetite. 

In those days he also applied himself to another of 
the religious to be instructed in some of the psalins, 

ST. PAMBO. 209 

This brother began with the thirty-eighth Psalm : 1 
said I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with 
my tongue; which words Pambo had no sooner 
heard, but without waiting for the second verse, he 
retired to his cell, saying, it was enough for one les 
son, and that he would go and endeavor to learn it in 
practice. Six months afterwards the brother, finding 
that he did not apply to him for any more lessons, 
asked him the reason why he staid away so long from 
him. brother, said he, I have not yet perfectly 
learnt to practice the first verse which you taught me. 
Many years after this, one of his friends asked, if he 
had not now at least learnt his lesson? To whom 
he replied, that it was with much difficulty he could 
yet reduce it to practice, notwithstanding his nineteen 
years application. However, by his perpetual atten 
tion not to offend in his words, he arrived at length 
at so great perfection in this particular, that he is 
thought in this to have equalled if not excelled St. 
Antony himself. When any one consulted him, 
either upon any passage of the scripture, or any other 
spiritual matter, he never would answer upon the spot, 
but desired time to consider of it. Sometimes he 
employed whole months on these occasions in examin 
ing before God what answer he should give ; but 
then, the answers he returned carried with them so 
much weight, and were so holy, that they were receiv- 
nl by all like oracles dictated by heaven. 

210 ST. PAMBO. 

St. Pambo did not* continue always x.Kh ^. An 
tony ; but leaving Thebais, he took up i ^ il>oda, 
either in the desert of Scete, as some say, or n thai 
of Nitria, where he had a monastery on Ilia nioun- 
tain. He was also for some time in the wi/de/p.esa of 
the Cells, where, Rufinus says, he went to receive hi/ 
benediction, anno 374. As to his exterior practices, 
St. Pemen used to relate, that he had remarked three 
things in St. Pambo, which he judged to be very ex 
traordinary, viz. his fasting on all days till the evening, 
his continual silence, and his great diligence in 
manual labors. He also related that St. Antony had 
given testimony in favor of St. Pambo, that the fear 
of God which posssessed his soul, had induced the 
Spirit of God to take up his resting place with him. 
The eminent grace of his interior is said to have 
broke forth and discovered itself in his exterior, by 
a certain brilliant majesty in his countenance, like 
what we read of Moses, so that a person could not 
look steadfastly on his face. He often earnestly beg 
ged of God, during the space of three years, that he 
would cease to glorify him in this manner upon earth ; 
but his divine Majesty, instead of attending to his 
prayers in this particular, chose rather to establish so 
profound a humility in his soul, as not to be altered or 
any ways prejudiced by this glory. 

St. Athanasius once desired St. Pambo to come 
from his desert to Alexandria, in order that by th 

ST. PAMBO. 211 

testimony of so holy a man to the divinity of Jesus 
Christ he might confound the Arians : upon whicV 
occasion it is recorded of him, that seeing an actress 
in that city dressed up in an extraordinary manner for 
he stage, he wept bitterly : and being asked the rea- 
on of his tears, he answered that he wept partly for 
the wretched condition of the soul of that unhappy 
woman, and partly to think that on his part he did 
not take so much pains to please God as she took to 
make herself agreeable to sinful man. 

Palladius relates, in the tenth chapter of his Histo- 
ria Lausiaca, that Melania the elder, a noble Roman 
lady, on coming into Egypt, and hearing of the sanc 
tity of St. Pambo, went to visit him in his monastery 
on mount Nitria, taking with her three hundred 
pounds weight of silver, which she presented to him, 
desiring he would accept of some part of the store 
with which God had blessed her. The holy man 
was sitting at his work making mats when she came 
in, accompanied with Isidore, the administrator of the 
hospital of Alexandria ; and without interrupting his 
work, or looking at either her or her present, he con 
tented himself with telling her, God would reward her 
charity. Then turning to his disciple, he said : " Take 
this, and distribute it amongst the brethren that are in 
Lybia and in the islands, whose monasteries are tho 
most poor of all ; but give no part of it to the monas 
teries of Egypt, because this country is more rich, and 

212 ST. PAMBO. 

abounds more in all things." The lady stood still, 
expecting that he would give her his benediction, or 
express at least his esteem for so considerable a pres 
ent, by word or other sign ; but seeing that he went 
on with his work, without once casting so much as an 
eye towards the chest of money which she had given 
him, she said to him : " Father, I do not know wheth 
er you are aware that here is three hundred pounds 
weight of silver ?" " Daughter," said he, without once 
taking off his eye from his work, " he to whom you 
make this offering, knows very well how much it 
weighs, without, your telling him. If indeed you had 
given it to me, you might have had some reason to 
inform me of its weight ; but if you designed it as an 
offering to God, who did not disdain, but even prefer 
red the poor widow s two mites before the large offer 
ings of the rich, do not say any more about it." This 
passage Melania herself related to Palladius. 

When Theophilus was made patriarch of Alexan 
dria, he went to visit the religious of mount Nitria, 
who were all assembled on this occasion to do honor 
to the patriarch. They desired St. Pambo, as their 
superior, to make some discourse to this prelate, with 
which liejniglit be edified : the holy abbot, agreeably 
to his maxims and practice, replied, " If he is not edi 
fied by my silence, I shall never edify him by my 
words." The Saint did not long survive this visit : 
Melania was present at his death, to whom he be- 

ST. PAMBO. 21 J 

queathed, by way of legacy, a basket which he had at 
that time just finished. When he was near his end, 
he blessed God, that from the time of his first coming 
into the wilderness of Nitria, and built himself a cell, 
he had never been burthensome to any one, having 
always earned his bread with the labor of his own 
hands ; and that he could not recollect a word he had 
spoken of which he had afterwards cause to repent : 
nevertheless, said he, I am now going to the Lord as 
one that hath not yet begun to serve him. He ex 
pired without any sickness, pain, or the least fever or 
agony. Melania took charge of his burial, and carried 
away the basket he had given her, which she kept till 
her death. 

There was also another abbot Pambo, or rather 
Pammon, whose monastery was in the neighborhood 
of Antinoe, greatly esteemed by St. Athanasius, who, 
together with St. Theodore, the disciple and successor 
of St. Pachomius, in the monastery of Tabenna, ac 
companied this Saint when he fled from the persecu 
tion of Julian, and who, together with the same St. 
Theodore, assured him on this occasion, by prophetic 
light, that his persecutor was now actually slain in 
Persia, and had for his r 5 uccessor in the empire one 
that was a good Christian, but whose reign should be 
short : all which proved to be actually true. This 
holy man departed not long after to our Lord, full of 
years and good works ; and St. Athanasius, in a dis< 



course he made in the great cimrch of Alexandria, in 
the presence of his own clergy, and of many bishops, 
has given the most ample testimony of his extraordi 
nary sanctity, declaring that he was indeed a great 
man of God, and worthy to be compared with St. An 
tony himself. 


From Theodoret, in his Philotheus, or Religious His 
tory, chap. 2 

ST. JULIAN, surnamed Sabbas, or the venerable father, 
was a native of Mesopotamia, who, following the divine 
call, withdrew himself in his youth from the world, 
and took up his habitation in a den or cavern, in a 
vast wilderness on the borders of Osrhoena, a place, on 
many accounts, inconvenient to dwell in, but preferred 
by him on account of its solitude, before the most com 
modious palace in the world. Here he undertook a 
life of perpetual penance and incessant prayer, eating 
but once a week, and then only some coarse bread 
made of millet, with a little salt, and drinking so small 
a quantity of water at his meal, as was insufficient to 
the quenching of his thirst, continually nourishing 
his soul with the singing of psalms, in which he took 


great delight, and with an interior conversation with 
God in prayer, by means of which the divine love 
took such possession of his heart, that he had no relish 
for any worldly thing, passing the night and day al 
ways thinking of his Beloved, insomuch, that even in 
his sleep he could dream of nothing else. 

The great reputation of his sanctity attracted by de 
grees many disciples to join him in the desert, who 
were desirous to learn the science of salvation. These 
he received into his cavern, and trained up to an imi 
tation of the exercises which he himself followed ; 
teaching them to discard all care and solicitude for 
this perishable carcase, and be content to lodge and 
eat like himself. However, as their number increased, 
and as the dampness of the cavern spoiled the little 
provisions of pickled herbs which they provided for the 
sick, he consented that a hut should be built for their 
better preservation. Having gone out at this time, as 
he frequently did for greater solitude and recollection 
,n prayer, to a distant part of the wilderness, employ 
ing several days by himself in spiritual exercises, and 
at his returning home, finding they had erected a 
larger building than he had ordered, he told them : 
" I fear brethren, that whilst we are enlarging our 
earthly dwelling, which we can occupy but for a short 
ime, we shall suffer detriment with respect to our hea- 
renly mansions which are eternal." 

The method of prayer and of performing the divine 


Dffice which this saint taught his disciples, was as fol 
lows : before day they all sung hymns, psalms, and 
canticles to the praise of God together within the cave ; 
then early in the morning they went out into the wil 
derness, two by two, and observed the same manner of 
worship, with this difference, that one of them sung 
fifteen psalms, standing upright, whilst the other lay 
prostrate on the ground in silent prayer and adoration, 
till the fifteen psalms being ended, he that had sung 
them prostrated himself in his turn on the ground, 
ind adored, whilst his companion, rising up, sung 
other fifteen psalms : and thus alternately singing and 
adoring, they passed a considerable part of the day. 
Before sunset, they betook themselves to a little rest, 
and afterwards meeting all together in the cave, they 
sung their evening hyrn^s to the praises of their Cre 

As to the Saint himself, he made, as we have already 
said, frequent excursions to a great distance from hia 
cave, and spent eight or ten days together in the re 
moter parts of the wilderness in his spiritual exercises. 
On these occasions he often took one of the brethren 
with him, particularly a holy man named James, a 
native of Persia, but never without desiring his com 
panion to keep himself at a distance, that he might 
be no occasion of distraction to him in his devotions. 
One time, whilst James was following him in the wil 
derness, he found a monstrous serpent lying dead in 


the way, which the Saint had killed by the sign Oi the 
cross, as he acknowledged upon his disciple s putting 
it home to him, but with a strict injunction to keep 
the matter a secret during his life. Another time, 
when Asterius, a young religious, endued with more 
courage than strength, had by his importunity obtain 
ed leavo to accompany him in one of those excursions 
in the heat of the summer, which in those deserts is 
very violent, after two or three days the young man 
was so parched with thirst by the sun continually 
beating upon him, and no water being to be found in 
those sands, he was just upon the point of perishing, 
had not the Saint by his prayers and tears obtained 
of the Father of mercies, that a fountain of water 
should spring up to save the young man s life, in tho 
very spot which he had sprinkled with his tears ; 
which fountain, says Theodoret, continues to flow to 
this day. The same Asterius was afterwards one of 
the most illustrious amongst the disciples ef St. Julian, 
and propagated the holy discipline he had learnt of 
his master, by founding a famous monastery near 
Gindare, in the territory of Antioch, where he trained 
up many souls to religious perfection. 

But these were not the only miracles wrought by 
the prayers of St. Julian, for he frequently cast out 
devils, and healed divers diseases. To avoid the con 
course of people which the fame of his sanctity and 
miracles brought to see him, as well as the honors 



they showed him, which were troublesome to his hu 
mility, he withdrew himself from his Mesopotamian 
cavern, and taking with him some of his disciples, 
with necessary provisions for a long journey, he tavel 
led as far as mount Sinai in Arabia, taking care to 
avoid any town or village that lay in his way. Here 
he took up his habitation, being charmed with the 
tranquillity he enjoyed in this holy solitude ; but after 
having built a church, or oratory, and sanctified for 
some time his new residence with the holy exercises 
of prayer and penance, it was the will of God he 
should return again to his disciples whom he had left 
behind him in his former habitation. 

Here he was informed of the threats of Julian the 
Apostate, who was then engaged in his expedition 
against the Persians, and of his impious designs against 
the church of Christ, if he should return with victory. 
Whereupon, to divert this impending storm, he em 
ployed ten whole days in most fervent prayer, to im 
plore the divine mercy and protection for the church. 
At the end of which time he learnt, by divine revela 
tion, the unhappy death of that prince, and declared 
the same to his disciples. 

Valens, an Arian, who succeeded not long after to 
the empire, was a great persecutor of the church and 
and an earnest promoter of such as were addicted to 
his heresy. In his time the Arians made a great 
bavoc in the church of Antioch, where also they had 


the impudence to publish that St. Julian was of their 
sentiments. Upon this occasion the Saint, at the re 
quest of the Catholics, leaving his desert, took a jour 
ney to Antioch, to bear testimony to the faith, and to 
repress the insolence of the heretics. In his way 
thither he miraculously preserved the life of the child 
of a good woman who had entertained him at her 
house, that by accident had fallen into a deep well, and 
was given over for lost, but was afterwards found sit 
ting and playing upon the water. Upon being drawn 
out, he declared he had seen the Saint all the while 
holding him up, and keeping him from sinking to the 
bottom. When he arrived at Antioch, great multi 
tudes from all parts flocked about him ; some to be 
hold a man so much renowned for his sanctity, others 
to seek by his prayers a deliverance from the evils 
wherewith they were afflicted. Here it pleased God 
that he himself should be seized by a violent fever. 
But as the Catholics were apprehensive that the peo 
ple would be shocked on the occasion, at their desire, 
he prayed to God, that if his recovery might be of any 
service to the church, he would be pleased to restore 
him to health. His prayer being immediately followed 
by a sweat, his fever abated, and he presently recover 
ed. Many others were healed upon the spot by his 
prayers. After which he went to the place, out of 
town, where the faithful assembled to their devotions, 
In his way thither he passed by the gate of the em- 

220 8T. JULIAN S ABBA 8. 

peror s palace, where a poor cripple, who had been 
deprived of the use of his legs, was instantly cured l>y 
the touch of his garment, so as to be able to rise up 
immediately and leap or run. The report of this mi 
racle being noised abroad, brought an immense crowd 
about the Saint, to the great confusion of the Arians, 
whose impostures were not only clearly discovered, but 
confuted by the public testimony the Saint gave to 
the Catholic truth, and by his confirming it by evident 
miracles which they could not contradict, as the gov 
ernor of the eastern district (who being grievously ill, 
had sent for the Saint), was one of the number of 
those who were miraculously cured by him. 

On his return home from Antioch, he passed through 
Cyrus, a city of which Theodoret was afterwards 
bishop. Here the faithful represented to him the 
danger they were in from one Asterius, an Arian, who 
had been intruded upon them for a bishop, and was 
preparing a sermon against the faith of the Trinity, to 
impose upon them by his eloquent sophistry. The 
Saint exhorted them to fasting and prayer ; and join 
ing with them in these spiritual exercises, by the effi 
cacy of his prayers in their favor, Asterius was sud 
denly seized upon with a mortal illness, which within 
twenty-four hours hurried him before the judgment 
seat of Christ, on the very eve of the festival which 
he designed to have preached his impious doctrine in 
the cathedral of that city. 


The Saint after this returned to his solitude, and 
there continued his accustomed exercises, till having 
attained to a good old age, he exchanged his mortal 
pilgrimage for a happy immortality. He is spoken 
of with the greatest eulogium by St. Jerome, Epist. 
13, and by St. John Chrysostom, writing upon th 
epistle to the Ephesians. His name is recorded in the 
Roman Martyrology, January ] 4. 


From his Life by St. Ephrem. 

ST. ABRAHAM was born in Mesopotamia, about the 
year 300, of wealthy parents, by whom he was ten 
derly beloved, and who provided him with a worldly 
spouse, to whom they from his childhood had pro 
mised him in marriage, designing to procure him an 
advantageous settlement, and desiring nothing so 
much as to see him advanced to some post of honor 
or dignity in the world : but God, who had other de 
signs upon him, inspired him with the love of purity, 
and an early affection to the practices of piety and de 
votion. He was remarkably diligent in frequenting 
the church, in attending to the holy scriptures, 


and in carrying Lome the divine lessons he there 
heard, in order to make them the subjects of his me 
ditation both day and night. When he had come to 
man s estate, his parents pressed him so closely to 
marry the girl to whom they had before contracted 
him, and after having resisted their solicitations for 
some time, he was at length constrained to acquiesce. 
But after celebrating the marriage feast, when nio-ht 

O O O 

came on, a ray of divine light having penetrated his 
heart, accompanied by so strong a call to quit all for 
the love of God, that he immediately arose, and left 
both his spouse untouched and his father s house, and 
going to some distance off, hid himself in an empty 
cell which he found fit for his purpose, and there with 
great joy began to sing hymns of praise to his divine 

His parents and friends not knowing what became 
of him, after a diligent search of seventeen days dis 
covered him in his cell at his prayers. But as they 
found him fixed in his resolution to remain there, in 
order, as he said, to bewail his sins, and dedicate the 
remainder of his life to prayer and penance, they left 
him to follow the call of God, and returned home. At 
parting he desired that they would not come any more 
under pretence of visiting him, to interrupt his spirit 
ual exercises ; and that he might have as little com 
munication as possible with the world, he walled up 
the door of his cell, leaving only a little window 


through which he received, from time to time, the 
slender provisions which maintained his life. Here, 
free from the cares and distractions of the world, he 
lived in the greatest austerity, abstaining even from 
bread, in watchings, penitential tears, and a continu 
al practice of the most profound humility, wonderful 
charity and meekness, which he showed, without res 
pect of persons, to every one. In this solitary state he 
continued for the space of many years, without ever 
remitting or being wearied out by his long penance, 
but rather finding an unspeakable sweetness therein, 
with which he was never satisfied. He considered 
every day as if it were the day of his death, and suffer 
ed not so much as one day to pass without weeping, 
but was never seen to laugh. Yet with all this aus 
terity and continual mortification, he always preserved 
a fresh countenance, an agreeable air, and a strength 
and vigor of body, which must have proceeded from 
grace, and not from the slender nourishment he al 
lowed himself. Nay, his very habit, which must be 
considered as a kind of a miracle, was Hot worn out 
during the fifty years that he remained in this peni 
tential course of life. 

The reputation of his sanctity brought many of all 
conditions to him, to whom he gave admirable lessons 
for their spiritual profit ; for our Lord had rewarded 
his early piety with the gifts of wisdom and under- 
itanding in so eminent a degree, that his light shone 


forth to all that approached him for their instruction 
and edification. In the mean time his parents dying, 
when he had been about ten years in this solitude, 
left him their worldly substance, which was very con 
siderable, which he desired a friend of his to charge 
himself with, and to dispose of the whole in alms and 
other pious uses, in order that himself might not be 
distracted or interrupted in his spiritual exercises by 
any temporal concerns. 

There was in the neighborhood of the Saint s cell, 
not far distant from the city of Edessa, a large coun 
try town, inhabited by pagans, who were not only 
obstinately addicted to their idolatrous worship, and 
heathenish superstitions, but also excessively barbarous 
and cruel towards all such as sought to reclaim them 
from their idolatry, by preaching to them the faith of 
Christ, insomuch that several of the clergy and relig 
ious in those parts, who had from time to time at 
tempted to convert them to Christianity, instead of 
succeeding in their undertaking, meeting with nothing 
but insults and outrages, were forced by their barbarity 
to abandon their enterprise. The bishop hearing of 
the heroic virtues of Abraham, cast his eyes upon him 
as one whose charity, zeal, meekness, and patience, 
seemed most likely to prevail over the blindness and 
obstinacy of these infidels ; wherefore assembling hi 
clergy, he proposed to them the advancing of the man 
of God to the priestly dignity, to the end that he 


might go and convert them. Having unanimously 
applauded his proposition, they went in a body, with 
the prelate at their head, to the cell of the holy man. 
The bishop told him upon what occasion they were 
come, and how great and charitable a work it would 
be in him to go and endeavor to procure the salvation 
of so many poor deluded souls. Abraham, at the 
hearing of this proposal, being struck with surprise, 
begged that the prelate would never think of sending 
such a miserable wretch as he was upon so important 
and arduous an enterprise, but rather suffer him to 
remain in his cell to lament and to do penance for his 
manifold sins. The bishop encouraged him, assuring 
him that God would assist him in this great work ; 
that his having forsaken all things for his love, was not 
sufficient to make his sacrifice complete, unless he were 
also ready to renounce his own will by the virtue of 
obedience, which is the true way to find out the will 
of God ; that whilst he stayed in his cell, he was la 
boring only for his own salvation ; but by going where 
he was about to send him, and laboring in the conver 
sion of those infidels, the grace of God co-operating 
with him, he would become the instrument of saving 
the souls of many, and be entitled to a much greater 
reward in eternal bliss. The man of God, on hearing 
this, could resist no longer ; but cried out w^li fears : 
" The Lord s will be done ! I am ready to go to what 
soever place you shall be pleased to send me." Thui 

226 ST.. ABRAHAM. 

the bishop, having brought him out of his cell, or 
dained him priest, and sent him to preach to that 
pagan people. 

He began his mission by pouring out prayers and 
tears before God in behalf of these poor souls, in whom 
he found no manner of disposition to profit by his 
words. Then sending to his friend, whom he had 
charged with the disposal of the worldly substances 
left him by his parents, he procured from him a sum 
of money with which he in a short time built a church, 
and adorned it for divine service. In the mean time 
the people, for whose conversion he ceased not contin 
ually to sigh and pray, made no opposition, although 
their curiosity brought them daily to behold the build 
ing. But when he had finished the church, and dedi 
cated it to the living God, with a most fervent prayer, 
accompanied with many tears for the conversion of the 
idolaters, his zeal carried him from the church to the 
temple of the idols, where he overthrew their altars, 
and broke their statues in pieces. Hereupon their rage 
knew no bounds, but falling upon him with merciless 
fury, after having discharged innumerable blows and 
gtripes upon him, they drove him out of the town. 

The next morning when they came to the church 
(as they daily did, not out of devotion, but from a cer 
tain curiosity and pleasure they took in seeking its de 
corations) they were surprised beyond measure to find 
him at his prayers before the altar. But upon his be- 


ginning to preach to them, and to conjure thorn to 
turn from their idols to the living God, they again fell 
upon him, and having beat him worse than before, 
they fastened a rope about his feet, and dragged him 
like a dead dog out of the town, where they pelted 
him with stones till they thought they had made an 
end of him. About midnight he, whom they had left 
for dead, came to himself, and after fervently praying, 
with abundance of tears to the Father of mercies, for 
Iho conversion and salvation of his persecutors, got 
up, and returned again into the town, and early in the 
morning was again found in the church singing" psalms. 
The pagans, although astonished at the sight of him, 
yet were no way mollified, but rather more enraged, 
so that they repeated the treatment thej had given 
him the preceding day, and dragged him again by the 
feet with ropes out of their town. He returned never 
theless the next day, and thus for the space of three 
whole years, he still persevered constant in his labors 
and fervent prayers for their conversion, under a per 
petual succession of grievous sufferings, pains, mocker 
ies, and outrages, without ever showing the least anger 
or impatience, or returning them a single angry word, 
or even entertaining in his soul any hatred or aversion 
towards them whatever, but, on the contrary, the more 
cruelly they treated him, the more tenderly did he 
love them, and the more affectionately invite them to 
come to Christ, the ivay, the truth, and the life. 


After three years had elapsed in this manner, the 
patience and prayers of the Saint at length prevailed 
over the resistance he had hitherto met with from this 
obstinate people. Upon a certain occasion, when they 
were all assembled together, they began to declare to 
each other their great admiration at the unwearied 
patience r.nd charity of the servant of God, and from 
thence to argue that the God whom he preached must 
needs be the true God, and the religion which taught 
him so much patience and chanty the true religion. 
Continuing to reason after this manner with one 
another, they further observed how he, being but one 
man, had cast down and broken in pieces all their 
gods, without their being able to resist him, or to re 
venge themselves on him. These reflections, being 
matured by the grace of God, opening their eyes and 
softening their hearts, produced a general resolution 
upon the spot of their all going in a body to the 
church, to yield themselves up to the man of God, 
and to embrace the faith he preached, which resolu 
tion they instantly put in execution. The Saint re 
ceived them with inexpressible joy, and having first, 
instructed them in the necessary articles of the cliris- 
tian doctrine, he afterwards baptized them, to the 
number of about one thousand persons, men, women, 
and children. After which he continued for the space 
of one year, watering these young plants, till he saw 
them not only deeply rooted in the Christian faith, but 


lso diligent in bringing forth the fruit of every chris- 
tian virtue, some thirty, some sixty, and others an 
hundred fold. 

Having thus accomplished the great work for which 
he was sent, and finding the affection of the people 
towards him to be so great, that they would never 
willingly suffer him to return to his solitude ; he, when 
they least suspected it, withdrew himself from them 
privately by night : having first recommended them 
in the most earnest manner he could, to the divine 
goodness, and making three times the sign of the 
cross over their town. The affliction which these 
good people suffered, when on coming to church the 
next morning they could not find their pastor, and 
the diligence wherewith both they and the bishop, 
who was sensibly affected with their grief, made search 
after him, was inexpressible, but all in vain, for he 
concealed himself with so much secrecy, that they 
could learn no tidings of him ; so that the good pre 
late, to console and assist them, went amongst them 
himself, and after having greatly edified them by his 
instructions, &c. he ordained priests, deacons, and sub- 
deacons amongst them, for the preaching the word of 
God, and administering the divine sacraments in their 
infant church. When Abraham was informed how 
matters stood, he gave thanks to God, and then ven 
tured to return to his ancient cell, where he was fre 
quently \isited by his flock, in order to nourish their 


souls with the food of the words of life, which issued 
in copious streams from his sacred lips. 

We pass over several other particulars of the vir 
tues of this man of God, and the frequent assaults he 
underwent from the malice of the common enemy, 
who had oftentimes visibly appeared to him, but was 
always so effectually vanquished by his humility, and 
the confidence he placed in our Lord, as not to be able 
to inspire him with the least fear. But there remains 
a remarkable passage of the life of this servant of God 
which must not be omitted, as it relates to the fall, the 
conversion, and penance of his niece. 

After the Saint had gone back to his cell, it hap 
pened that his brother, dying in the world, left an 
only daughter, named Mary, an orphan of seven years 
of age. This child was brought to her uncle in his 
wilderness, who undertook to train her up to a reli 
gious life, and placed her, for this purpose, in a cell 
adjoining to his own, with a little window between 
both, through which he instructed her. Here she 
made such good use of the lessons she daily received 
from him, as to become a perfect model of piety and 
penance, in which happy state she persevered for 
twenty years, till a false religious, or rather a wolf in 
sheep s clothing, under pretence of coming to be edi 
fied by the conversation of her uncle, found means tc 
tempt her to sin, and ceased not till she was so un 
happy as to "uit her cell, and yield to the temptation. 


The horror and remorse that followed her crime was 
BO excessive, that it threw her into despair ; so that 
instead of rising after her fall, and returning to her 
uncle to confess and do penance for her sin, she was 
resolved to fly from him, and accordingly went to a 
distant town, where she abandoned herself to a sinful 
course of life. 

The Saint having taken notice that for the space of 
two days he had not heard her sing psalms, according 
to her custom, called out to her to know the cause of 
her silence, and as no answer was returned, it present 
ly occurred to his recollection that she was the dove 
he had seen in a vision swallowed up by a dragon. 
His grief for the loss of his dear child became inex 
pressible : he wept and prayed for her without ceasing, 
till at the end of two years, having heard where she 
was, and the wicked course of life to which she had 
abandoned herself, he took the resolution of seekino- 


after the lost sheep, in order to bring her back to 
Christ s fold. In order thereto, he procured, through 
the means of a friend, a horse, together with a soldier s 
habit, and a large cap or hat, which covered a great 
part of his face, and taking some monev with him, 
went to the inn in which she lived, where having or 
dered a splendid supper to be prepared, he told the 
host that he had heard much of the beauty of a young 
woman in his house, whose name was Murv, and de 
sired she might sup with him. Supper being ended, 

32 ST. Aim ATI AM. 

and the waiters having- retired, he took off his cap, 
and mingling tears with his words: "My daughter, 1 
said he (for so he used to call her), " don t you know 
me ? My child did not I bring you up ? What has 
befallen you ? Who is the murderer that has killed 
your soul ? Where is that angelical habit that you 
formerly wore ? Where that admirable purity ? 
Where are those tears which you poured out in the 
presence of God ? Where those watchings employed 
in singing the divine praises ? Where that holy aus 
terity that made you take pleasure in lying on the 
bare ground ? Why did you not, after your u/-st fall, 
come presently to acquaint me with it, since I should 
certainly have done penance for you, with my friend 
Ephreni (the writer of this life), who has been ever 
since under an unspeakable affliction on your account ? 
Why had you so little confidence in me ? Alas ! 
who is there without sin but God alone ? " On hear- 
in^ these words she stood like one struck dumb and 


motionless with confusion and horror, and it was not 
without extreme difficulty, after many affecting 
speeches, lively representations of the tender mercies 
of God to repenting sinners, and even promises to 
take all her sins upon himself, that she at length put 
on the resolution of returning to her cell. Then pros 
trating herself at his feet, she spent the remainder of 
the night in prayers and tears. At break of day he 
bid her get upon his horse, and thus conducted her 


back to his cell, ordering her to leave what money 
and goods she was possessed of behind her, as inherit 
ing them of the devil, whom she had been serving. 
After her return, she gave herself up with so much 
ardor to the exercises of a penitential life, and bewailed 
her sins day and night with so deep a sense of sorrow 
and contrition for them, joined with so lively a confi 
dence in the divine mercy, that God was please 1 ., 
within three years, to give her, as a token of his ac 
ceptance of her penitence, the grace of even working 
miracles, by restoring health to the diseased by her 
prayers. However, she continued her penitential 
course with incredible austerity during the fifteen 
years that she lived after her conversion, never ceas 
ing to lament her sins, till at length God was pleased 
to take her to himself. At the hour of her death a 
certain extraordinary brightness was observed on her 
countenance, which gave all that were present occasion 
to glorify God. 

As to St. Abraham, he passed to a better life five 
years before her, after having, as we have already 
seen, spent fifty years in serving God in the most con- 
ummate sanctity. No sooner was the news of hi? 
death spread abroad, than the whole city, in a man 
ner, crowded about his cell, and as many as could 
procure the least scrap of his clothes, carried them 
home with them, as so many precious relics which 
would bring a blessing along with them to theii 


houses ; and we are assured by St. Ephrem, that the 
very touch of them cured all diseases upon the spot. 
St. Abraham is commemorated in the Roman Mar 
ty rology, on the 16th of March, but the Greeks cele 
brate his festival, jointly with St. Mary, his niece, on 
the 29th of October. 

Theodoret, in his Philotheus, gives us the life of 
another St. Abraham, a native of the city of Cyrus 
who from an anchoretical life was called forth by di 
vine inspiration to the conversion of the inhabitants 
of a certain town on mount Libanus; which having 
happily effected, by his zeal and charity, after three 
years abode amongst them, he returned to his solitude. 
The extraordinary sanctity of his life, and the general 
esteem wherein his eminent virtues and great talents 
for the gaining of souls to God were held, determined 
his superiors to send him with the episcopal character 
to the city of Carra3 (or Haran) in Mesopotamia, 
which as yet had not received the faith of Christ, but 
was given up to the worship of devils. Here God 
gave such a blessing to his labors and preaching, con 
tinual prayer, wonderful sanctity and austerity of life, 
that this idolatrous people, by his means was soon 
brought over to Christ. He flourished in the fourth 



From Rufirms s Lives of the Fathers, chap. 1. Palla 
dius. Historia Lausiaca chap. 43. and Casaian, 1. 4 
I.aatitat. chap. 23. 24, 25. 

AMONGST all the sainsts of the Egyptian deserts, there 
is perhaps none, St. Antony excepted, whose name is 
so illustrious in church history, and the writings of the 
holy fathers, as that of St. John of Lycopolis (so 
called from the place, near which he dwelt in the 
hither Thebais.) He was not only greatly renowned 
for his extraordinary sanctity and miracles, but also 
consulted as an oracle from all parts, on account of 
his eminent spirit of prophecy, not only by persons of 
an inferior rank, but even by the emperor Theodosius 
the Great himself, to whom, amongst other things, he 
foretold his glorious victories over the mighty armies 
of the two usurpers, Maximus and Eugenius. This 
Saint was born about the year 305, and brought up 
at first to the trade of a carpenter, but when grown 
up to manhood he withdrew himself under an ancient 
religious man, whom he served with so much diligence- 
and humility, that the good old father was quite wrapt 
n admiration at his virtue. However, to put it to the 
trial, whether his virtue was built upon a solid founda 
tion or not, he often enjoined him to do many things 


seemingly absurd, or extremely difficult, or altogether 
impossible, which the humble disciple immediately 
took in hand, and endeavored to accomplish with a 
wonderful faith, simplicity, and perseverance, without 
so much as once allowing himself to reflect on the un 
reasonableness or impossibility of the injunction : but 
believing all things possible to obedience, and looking 
upon the ordinance of his superior as the command 
ment of God himself, an instance of which is record 
ed by Cassian. The old father one day fixing a dry 
stick of wood in the ground, bid his disciple water 
that tree twice a day, which task, with his usual punc 
tuality in matters of obedience, he constantly perform 
ed for the space of a whole year, whether sick or well, 
or whatever other occupation required his attention, 
though he was obliged to walk the distance of two 
miles each time to fetch the water, till at the expiration 
of the year, the old father asked him, whether the tree 
had as yet taken root or not, and he simply answering 
that he did not know, the father pulled the stick oui 
of the ground, and bid him water it no longer. 

After the death of his master, having spent about 
five years in different monasteries in the exercises of a 
religious life, being then about forty years of age, he 
retired alone to a steep mountain, about two miles dis 
tance from the city of Lycopolis, and there chose a 
hollow rock of difficult access for his place of abode, 
which he divided into three rooms or apartments : one 


af which served him for an oratory, another for a 
work-room, and the third for his ordinary uses. The 
entrance of this cavern he closed up so effectually, 
that for the space of fifty years he neither went oat 
himself nor admitted any one to enter his enclosure, 
conversing only on certain days through a window 
with such as either came to be edified by his heavenly 
discourses, or to seek counsel, consolation, or a remedy 
for their diseases ; but for the accommodation of such 
as came from a remote distance, he permitted a dwell 
ing to be erected near to his grotto, where some ser 
vants of God, who had placed themselves under his 
direction, took care to provide them with food and 
lodging. But as for women, none were suffered to 
approach him upon any account whatsoever. He em 
ployed the whole week in conversation with God, ex 
cept the Saturdays and Sundays, when he let himself 
be seen through his window by such as came to visit 
him ; and after having prayed for and with them, and 
entertained them with excellent lessons out of the 
word of God, according to their exigencies, he resolv 
ed their doubts, comforted them in their spiritual 
afflictions, and encouraged them to fervor and perse 
verance in the love and service of God. His words 
were seasoned with that heavenly wisdom which he 
acquired by a continual conversation with God ; for 
the more he withdrew himself from earthly tilings, 
the nearer the Spirit of God approached to him, with 


such heavenly light as not only to endow him with * 
clear understanding of things present, but also with 
so perfect a knowledge and foresight of things to 
come, that few or none of the saints since the Apostles 
have been found to excel, or even to equal him in the 
spirit of prophecy. He not only often declared the 
most secret thoughts of their hearts to those that 
came to visit him, and reproved them in private for 
sins of which he could have no knowledge but by 
revelation, but also foretold public calamities, and 
cautioned the people against tlve sins by which they 
were about to draw down the severe judgment of God 
upon their heads; and on many other occasions relat 
ing to the public welfare, he not only gave directions 
to those in power how to act, but punctually foretold 
the success. He became also illustrious for innumer 
able miracles : though to avoid ostentation he would 
never undertake to cure the diseased in his cell, but 
rather chose to send them some oil he had previous!^ 
blessed, which never failed to heal them of all their 

Palladius relates how himself had undertaken a 
journey of eighteen days from mount Nitria to the 
neighborhood of Lycopolis, on purpose to visit this 
saint ; and that as soon as he saw him, he told him 
his name, and mentioned the monastery from whence 
he came ; and that shortly after the governor of the 
province coming in, and the Saint having entertained 


him for some time in private upon the affairs of his 
soul, when the governor was gone he let Palladius 
know what had passed in the mean time in his 
thoughts. He told him also the temptations he lay 
under of quitting his solitude, and of returning to hi 
native country, under the specious pretext of comfort 
ing his aged father, and of inducing his brother and 
his sister to embrace a religious life, assuring him that 
such an undertaking was needless, for that they had 
both of them already renounced the world, and that 
his father would live seven years longer ; and more 
over, that he should hereafter be a bishop, and after 
wards suffer great troubles and afflictions ; all which 
came to pass, for when Palladius, some time after, 
going into Palestine for a change of air, and from 
thence into Bithynia, he was there made a Bishop of 
Helonopolis, and became a partaker in the persecution 
raised against St. John Chrysostome, being himself 
also expelled from his see on the same occasion. 

Eufinus also with six others, his companions, went 
in like manner from Jerusalem to visit the great Saint 
not long before his happy death. At their first com 
ing, when according to custom they were about to join 
with him in prayer, and then to receive his benedic 
tion ; he ased if there was not one amongst them in 
holy orders ? They answered, no. But he looked on 
them one by one, and then pointing to the youngest 
of the company, he said, this man is a deacon ; whicb 


was actually the case, though he desired to conceal it, 
and as only one of the company knew it, he therefore 
continued to deny it; upon which the saint taking 
hold of his hand, and kissing it, said : u My son, take 
care not to disown the grace you have received from 
God, Jest that which is good should be an occasion of 
your falling into evil, by telling a lie undor the pretext 
of humility. An untruth must never be told, not 
even under the pretence of good, nor upon any account 
whatever ; for a lie can never proceed from God, but 
always from evil, as our Saviour himself teaches." The 
deacon received this charitable correction with respect 
ful silence. After which, having all united in prayer, 
as soon as they had finished, one of the company, who 
was grievously tormented with a tertian ague, humbly 
entreated the Saint to cure him. He told him, that he 
desired to be delivered from what was sent him for his 
good, for that sicknesses, and such like chastisements, 
contributed to purify the soul. He however gave him 
some blessed oil, by the application of which he was 
suddenly and perfectly healed. The man of God gave 
orders, says Rufinus, for our entertainment, according 
to the strictest rules of hospitality, taking much care 
of us, whilst he was altogether regardless of himself; 
for he never eat till after vespers, and then but a verj 
small quantity of what had never been near the fire 
This was his manner of fasting, in which he still perse 
vered though he was now ninety years of age. 


After refreshing their bodies by the entertainment 
the saint had ordered for them, they returned again to 
receive from him the food of their souls. Having 
asked them, from what place they came, and what 
was the motive of their journey ? They answered, 
that they came from Jerusalem, with a desire to be 
edified by seeing what they had heard so much of. 
Upon which he told them, with a cheerful serenity of 
countenance, which proceeded from the inward joy 
and peace of his soul, that he wondered how they 
should take so much pains, and suffer the fatigues of 
so long a journey, merely to see a poor frail imperfect 
mortal, in whom there was nothing worthy of any 
one s seeking after or admiring; for even supposing 
they had conceived an opinion that they might be 
edified by what they should see in him, or hear from 
his mouth, yet how inconsiderable would all this be 
in t omparison of *vhat they might learn at any time 
without going abroad, from the prophets and apostles, 
or rather from the spirit of God in the holy Scriptures. 
However, seeing they came so far with a desire to hear 
something from him, he made them a most divine ex 
hortation, set down at large by Rufinus; in which, 
after cautioning them against the danger of being 
puffed up by vanity, on account of their journey, or 
any thing they should see or hear from tne servants 
of God, either by harboring a better c pinion 01 trieni 
Reives, or seeking to raise themselves in tne esteem c"> 


athers, he proceeds to expatiate on the pernicious ef 
fects of pride and vain-glory, which not only rob us 
of the fruit and reward of all our good works, but is 
capable of even casting the soul, that seems to herself 
to have already ascended to the top of the hill of re- 
ligious perfection, headlong down- the precipice that 
leads to the bottomless pit, as was the case with Satan 
and his angels. Of this he told them a dreadful ex 
ample, which had lately happened in that very desert, 
of a solitary, who dwelt in a cavern by himself, and 
led an austere life, laboring with his own hands for his 
subsistence, and passing both day and night in prayer ; 
after having attained to an eminent degree of virtue, 
suffering himself to be puffed up with pride and a 
conceit of his own strength, he fell an easy prey to the 
enemy ; who assuming the shape of a woman in dis 
tress, and being admitted by him into his cave, excit 
ed in his heart impure thoughts and criminal desires ; 
to which, when he had consented, and was seeking to 
put them into execution, the phantom vanished away 
with a most hideous noise, whilst a multitude of devils 
was heard in the place, with a loud laughter mocking 
and insulting him. The wretch was so much cast 
down and confounded at his shameful fall, that aban 
doning all thoughts of endeavoring to rise again, and 
repair, by penance and humility, the fault into whicri 
his pride had betrayed him, he fell, into the deep gulf 
of despair, and returning into the world, he gave him 


aelf up to all manner of impurities, industriously 
avoiding the meeting or conversing with any holy 
person, who by their wholesome admonitions might 
seek to reclaim and convert him. 

In the sequel of his discourse the Saint also incul 
cates the necessity of keeping a strict guard upon our 
hearts and thoughts, in order to prevent any passion, 
or disorderly affection of the will, or the vain desire 
of any thing which is not according to God, from tak 
ing root in the heart ; for from these roots a thousand 
distractions presently shoot up, to the great prejudice 
of our attention and devotion in prayer, as well as to 
the purity of the soul ; " so that it is not enough," 
says he, " to have renounced the world, and all the 
works of Satan, the prince of the world, nor even to 
have left our goods, our lands, and all we possessed in 
the world, we must also renounce our imperfections, 
and all vain pleasures, and unprofitable and hurtful 
desires, which, as the apostle tells us, I Tim. vi. 9, 
drown men in destruction and perdition. For with 
out renouncing these things, we never effectually re 
nounce the devil and all his works ; since it is by their 
means the devil enters and takes possession of our 
heart. These disorderly affections hold a correspond 
ence with our enemy ; nay, as they proceed from 
him, and open to him the door of the soul, it is no 
wonder such souls should never enjoy rest, but rather 
be always agitated by troubles and commotion, since 


they arc always encompassed by so wretched a guest 
to whom they have given admittance by their passions 
and vices. On the other hand, he that has indeed re 
nounced the world, that is to say, retrenched all his 
vices and passions, and banished all disorderly affec 
tions to sin far from his soul, so as to leave no gate 
open by which the devil may enter ; he who repress- 
ee his anger, resists and overcomes all irregular mo 
tions to evil, avoids all lying, abhors envy, who 
not only speaks well of every one, but even denies 
himself the liberty of thinking evil of any one, and 
who always considers the good and evil of his neigh 
bor as his own, and behaves accordingly on every oc 
casion, such a one as this opens the gate of his soul to 
the Holy Spirit, who enters in and fills it with his 
h ght, and with those admirable fruits of charity, joy, 
peace, patience, &c. which are produced in the soul by 
this heavenly Comforter." Wherefore the Saint pro 
ceeds to recommend in a particular manner to all who 
are desirous of being truly religious, to labor to ac 
quire such perfect purity, both of conscience and of 
heart, as may enable them to offer up to our Lord 
Buch a perfect and pure prayer as may introduce them 
to a certain familiarity with his divine Majesty and his 
holy angels, and to such a happy union of love, as to 
be enabled to say with St. Paul, Rom. viii. 38, 39. 
That neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor princi 
palities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to 


tome nor any other creature shall be able to separate 
us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our 
Lord. He further adds, that the best means to attain 
this perfect purity, so pleasing to God, is to retrench 
by the virtue of mortification, vanities, inordinate af 
fections, and sensual delights of every kind, even in 
small things, and to walk resolutely in the narrow way 
of self-denial and penance ; with which, if we join the 
love of solitude, silence, and recollection of spirit, we 
shall easily arrive at perfection, and even begin to en 
joy a kind of heaven upon earth. 

With these and such like heavenly discourses the 
Saint entertained his guests, and after three days dis 
missed them, giving them his blessing, and telling 
them at parting, that on that very day the news was 
brought to Alexandria of the victory which the em 
peror Theodosius had obtained over the tyrant Eu- 
genius, but, said he, that good emperor shall not long 
survive this happy event, -but shall die a natural death. 
All which they soon after found to be true. The man 
of God himself did not survive that year. During 
the space of three days before his death, he let no 
man see him ; and on the fourth day, being on his 
knees in prayer, he breathed out his pure soul into 
the hands of his Creator, whom he went to enjoy for 
a happy eternity. 

Palladius relates, as having learnt it from the Saint 
himself, that during* the many years he had lived in 


his cavern he had never seen any woman, nor one 
piece of money, nor ever beheld any man eating, nor 
had any man ever seen him either eat or drink. 

But we must not here omit a very remarkable his 
tory relating to this Saint, which we find not only at 
tested by Rufinus and Palladius, but also by St. Au 
gustine, L. de Cura pro Mortuis, c. 17. which he had 
learnt from those who had been informed thereof by 
the very parties themselves to whom it happened. A 
certain tribune or colonel came to the Saint and beg 
ged he would allow his wife to see him, as she had un 
dertaken a long and dangerous journey out of an ex 
treme desire she had of visiting him. The man of 
God answered, that he never saw, nor admitted of 
visits from any woman. But as the colonel still press 
ed him, affirming that it would cost his wife her life, 
through the greatness of her affliction, if she were not 
admitted to see him, the Saint bid him go, and assure 
his wife she should see him without giving herself the 
trouble of either coming to him, or so much as going 
out of her own bed chamber. Accordingly that very 
night the man of God appeared to her in a vision in 
her sleep, said to her : " O woman, great is thy faith, 
which has obliged me to come hither to satisfy thy 
request. However I must warn thee against desiring 
in future to see the mortal and earthly visage of the 
servants of God, but rather to contemplate with the 
eye of the spirit their lives and other actions : for tkt 


flesh profitetrt nothing, but it is the spirit that giveth 
fife. Know this also, that I, not in the quality of a 
Saint, or of a prophet, as thou imaginest, but only in 
consideration of thy faith, have prayed to our Lord 
for thee, and he has been pleased to grant to thee the 
cure of all the corporal diseases under which thou 
laborest ; and henceforward both thou and thy hus 
band shall enjoy good health, and all thy house shall 
oe blessed. But take care that thou never forget the 
benefits of God ; live always in the fear of the Lord, 
and desire no more for thy worldly subsistence than 
the appointment due to thy post. Content thyself 
then with having seen me in thy sleep, and desire no 
more." When the woman awaked, she related the 
whole vision to her husband, describing the habit of 
the Saint, and all the lineaments of his face, which to 
his great astonishment all perfectly agreed. Upon 
which he went the next day to return thanks to the 
man of God ; who as soon as he saw him, said : " be 
hold I have fulfilled my promise, depart then in peace, 
and may the blessing of God go alono- w ith you 

St. John of Egypt is celebrated in the Roman 
Martyrolo^y on the seventeenth of March. 

248 ST. ARSENHT8. 


From the third and fifth book of the Remarkable Ao 
tions and Sayings of the Ancient Fathers, published 
by Ros-weidus. 

ST. ARSENIUS was a nobleman in great favor with 
the emperor Theodosius, who committed to him the 
care of the education of his two sons, Arcadius and 
Honorius, in quality both of their godfather and of 
their governor. In this eminent station he lived at 
court the life of a courtier, in the midst of honors, 
riches, and pleasures, till he was about forty years of . 
age, when God was pleased to call him from a world 
ly life into the wilderness, there to seek, by flight, 
silence, and repose, the salvation of his soul. For, 
whilst he was one day at his prayers, earnestly beg 
ging of our Lord to teach him what he should do to 
secure his eternal salvation, he heard a voice that 
answered him, saying, " Arsenius, flee the company of 
men, and thou shalt be saved." Wherefore, in com 
pliance with this heavenly call, he instantly abandon 
ed his secular glory for the love of Christ : and quit 
ting all his worldly possessions, retired into the desert 
of Scete, in order to dedicate the remainder of his 
4 ays to the love and service of his Maker, in solitude, 
grayer, labor, and penance. Whilst he repeated the 

ST. AKSENIU8. 249 

same prayer, he heard again the same voice, saying. 
" Arsenius, flee, be silent, and quiet, (fuge, tace, qui- 
esce) these are the principles of salvation, or the first 
things to be done in order to salvation. Hcec sunt 
vrincipia salutis" 

To fulfil this repeated injunction of fleeing from the 
company of men, he chose a cell at a great distance 
from the other solitaries, and very rarely admitted of 
any visits from them. Even when he went to church, 
which was thirteen leagues distant from his habitation, 
he used to place himself behind one of the pillars, in 
order to conceal himself as much as possible, so as 
neither to see nor be seen by others. When Theoph- 
ilus, the patriarch of Alexandria, went one day to visit 
him with some others in his company, and desired he 
would make some discourse to the company for their 
spiritual edification; the Saint asked them whether 
they were all disposed to observe and put in practice 
what he should say to them ? Yes, replied they, very 
willingly. Why then, said he, I beg of you, that in 
what place soever you may hereafter hear Arsenius to 
dwell, be pleased to let him be alone, and never to 
come near him. Another time the same patriarch 
being desirous to see him, sent to know if he would 
admit of his visit. Arsenius answered, that if he 
came alone he should open the door k> him, but if he 
brought any others in his company he would seek out 
another place, and remain there no longer ; so that 


Theophilus, for fear of driving him away, refrained 
afterwards from visiting him. The abbot Mark having 
asked him one day, why he kept at such a distance 
from men, and shunned the conversation of all the 
other solitaries ? He answered : " God knows how 
dearly I love them all ; but I cannot be at the same 
time with his divine Majesty and with them. For 
whereas the angels, though their number be almost in 
finite, yet have all but one will ; it is quite otherwise 
with men, whose dispositions and wills are different ; 
therefore I cannot think of leaving God to converse 
with men." 

As to the manner in which he spent his time in this 
solitude, it, was divided between working and prayer, 
or rather his whole life in the wilderness was one con 
tinual prayer ; for even whilst he was sitting at work 
and making baskets, which was his daily employment, 
his soul was ever attentive to God in prayer, and for 
ever bewailing his sins ; insomuch that he was obliged 
to have always a handkerchief in his bosom, to wipe 
oft the flood of penitential tears which continually 
flowed from his eyes. As for the nights, he generally 
spent them, as we learn from disciple Daniel, in 
watching and prayer ; only towards flic rooming, when 
nature could hold out no longer Jhj tr*ed to suffer 
sleep, which he called his nauglS*/ jf vjr.i< to close his 
eyes ; but after a very short repupj. Xnch he took sit 
ting, he rose up again to Ms &c;astorned exercise* 


The same disciple relates, that on Saturday evenings 
the setting sun usually left him at his prayers, with 
his hands extended towards heaven, and that he con 
tinued praying in this same posture till the sunbeams, 
rising the next morning, came beating upon his eyes. 
In order to renew his fervor in his spiritual exercises 
he would frequently say to himself: Arsenius, Arse- 
nius, to ivhat end didst thou leave the world and coiw 
hither ? He used also often to say that whenever he 
had been talking, he had always found matter where 
of to repent, but had never regretted his having kept 
silence. He was also a great lover of holy poverty. 
The other solitaries said of him, that as no one was 
more richly clad than Arsenius whilst he lived at court, 
so none of the inhabitants of the desert wore a more 
mean or poor habit than he, after retiring from the 
world. His poverty was so great, that having occa 
sion for a trifle of money to procure some little neces 
saries for him in sickness, he was obliged to receive it 
in alms, upon which he cried out : I give thee thanks, 
my God, that thou hast made me worthy to be thus 
reduced to the necessity of asking an alms in thy 
name." After he had lived for many years in the wif- 
derness, a kinsman 01 his, a senator, dying, left him 
by his last will a considerable estate. When this will 
*as brought to the Saint, by a proper officer, in his 
solitude, it displeased him so much that he would have 
torn it in pieces, had not the officer flang himself at 


hivi feet, declaring that it would cost him his life if the 
will were destroyed. Upon this Arsenius returned 
him back the will, saying, " How is it possible this 
man should by his will make me his heir, since he, as 
it appears, died but a little while ago, whilst I have 
been dead so many years." 

As to his method of fasting, and other austerities 
of this kind, it is hard to describe them in particular 
on account of his keeping himself so much to himself, 
His disciple Daniel only informed us, that during the 
>vhole time he knew him, they laid him in but a very 
slender provision for his whole year s sustenance ; and 
yet that he managed it so well, as not only to make it 
suffice for himself, but also to impart some of it to his 
disciples whenever they came to see him. The same 
disciple also took notice, that whilst he was sitting at 
his work, making baskets, according to his custom, of 
the leaves of palm-trees, when the water in which he 
was obliged to moisten and soften them began to cor 
rupt, he would never change it, or fling it away, but 
if there were any need of fresh water, he would pour 
it in upon that which was already corrupted, that so 
it might always continue to yield a disagreeable smell. 
The brethren asked him one day, why he would not 
Buffer that corrupt water to be flung away, since it in 
fected his whole cell with its stench ? " Because," re 
plied he, " I was used when I lived in the world to 
gratify myself with the most agreeable perfumes, an4 


therefore it is EG more than just that I should now, 
during the time that remains of my life, in punishment 
of my former sensuality, support this stench, in hopes 
that at the last day God will deliver me from the in 
supportable stench of hell, and not condemn my soul 
with that of the rich man who had passed his days 
in feasting and delights." 

But nothing was more remarkable in this Saint than 
his extraordinary humility, which made him so indus 
trious in keeping himself out of sight, and in conceal 
ing every thing that might procure him the applause 
or esteem of men. Although he was so learned in 
the human sciences before he quitted the world, as to 
be perfect master both of the Greek and Latin, and 
had, after his retiring into the wilderness, received such 
extraordinary lights from God for understanding spirit 
ual matters, that no one had a more perfect knowledge, 
or could better explain the most difficult passages of 
the holy Scriptures than himself, yet he would never 
speak of these matters by his own choice, nor show at 
any time his knowledge of them, but rather chose to 
consult and hearken to the most illiterate of the breth 
ren, provided he were truly humble. Being asked 
one day why he, being so learned a man, sought in 
struction and counsel from a certain solitary, who was 
quite destitute of all human literature, he replied : 
" It is true, whilst I was in the world I acquired some 
knowledge in the sciences of the world, and in the 

254 ST. ARSENIUfl. 

Greek and Latin tongues, but since I have left th 
world, I have not yet been able to learn even the A 
SB, C, of the true science of the Saints, of which this 
-ignorant rustic is master." Such were his humble 
sentiments of himself. 

After he had spent forty years in the desert of Scete, 
tlie Mazices, a barbarous people of Lybia, made an 
irruption on that side, where they massacred St. Moses 
nd other solitaries, and forced all the rest from their 
cells. Upon this occasion Arsenius was obliged to 
change his earthly residence, but not the true dwelling 
place where his heart was fixed. He went therefore 
to a place .called Trohe, not far from the ancient Baby 
lon of Egypt (now Cairo), and there he continued his- 
usual course of life for ten years, till fresh irruptions 
of the barbarians forced him thence. From Trohe he- 
went to Canopsas in the lower Egypt, which is not far 
distant from Alexandria, where, being too much dis 
turbed with the importunity of visits from that great 
metropolis, he remained no longer than three years,, 
and then returned again to Trohe, where he spent the 
two last years of his mortal pilgrimage. When his 
end approached, he told his disciples that he desired 
they would bury him privately, no matter how, only 
taking care that he should be remembered in the offer- 
iwg of the holy sacrifice. They thai were present at 
his death, seeing him, said to him: "Father, why do 
you weep ? Are you, like the rest, afraid to, die ?.** 


u Yes," said he, " very much ; and this is no new feat, 
but a fear that has stuck close to me ever since I first 
came into the desert." He departed to our Lord in a 
good old age, being ninety -five years old, of which he 
had spent fifty-five in the desert in the exercises of a 
religious life. St. Pemen seeing him expire, cried out : 
" happy Arsenius, for having wept and mourned for 
yourself so much in this world ! since they who do not 
mourn in this life, shall mourn for all eternity in the 
next." It is also recorded of the patriarch Theophilus, 
that when he was at the point of death, he said : " 
how happy wast thou, O Arsenius, who hadst this last 
hour continually before thine eyes ! " 

The name of St. Arsenius is recorded in the Roman 
Martyrology on the nineteenth of July. 


From Sozomen. an ancient Church. Eistorian, 
lib. 8. c. 19. 

NILAMMON was a holy anchoret, who had made him 
self a little cell near Geres, a small city of Egypt, in 
the neighborhood of Pelusium, where he dwelt foi 
many years in admirable sanctity. When the bishop 
of that city died, the clergy and people, who had con 


ceived a high opinion of the eminent virtues of thii 
servant of God, desired to have him for his successor. 
But whatsover advances they made, Nilammon s hu 
mility repelled, by refusing to submit his shoulders to 
a charge which even an angel might have reason to 
dread ; but being apprehensive that they would use 
violence., he closed up the door of his cell, and fenced it 
with stones, that they might not be able to come at him. 

In the mean time it happened that Theophilus, the 
patriarch of Alexandria, coming by sea from Constan 
tinople, where he had been too much engaged in the 
unjust deposition of St, John Chrysostom, was driven 
by a storm upon the coast of Geres. The people 
therefore took this opportunity of the presence of the 
patriarch to entreat him to oblige Nilammon to accept 
of the bishopric. Whereupon Theophilus going to 
his cell, used his utmost endeavors to prevail upon him 
to accept of episcopal consecration, and continued to 
press him so closely, that Nilammon finding the pa 
triarch would not hear any thing that he could al- 
ledge to excuse himself, desired at least one day s res 
pite to set his affairs in order, telling him, that on the 
following day he might do with him as he pleased. 

The patriarch failed not to return on the following 
day, accompanied by all the people, and then chal 
lenging the Saint to fulfil his promise, he desired him 
(o open the door, that they might proceed to his con 
secration. Nilammon proposed that some time should 


be allowed him for prayer before liis consecration 
Tlieophilus applauded the proposition, and betook 
himself also to prayer; but the fervor of Nilammon s 
prayers was so excessive, that he breathed out his soul 
into the hands of his Creator. In the mean time, the 
patriarch and people who remained without, after hav 
ing allowed him, as they thought, competent time for 
his devotion, began to be impatient, and to call aloud 
on him to open his door ; but finding that a great 
part of the day passed in this manner, and that he re 
turned no answer, they forced their way into his cell, 
where, to their great surprise, they found him dead. 
Having buried him with great honor, they erected a 
church over his monument, where they celebrated his 
festival amongst the Saints. 

He died anno 403, and his name is recorded in the 
Roman Martyrology on the sixth day of January. 


From Theodoret in his Philotheus, chap. 26, and Anto- 
nius, Disciple of tho Saint, in his Life 

ALTHOUGH there were, during the life-time of St. Si 
mon Stylites, almost as many eye-witnesses of his ex 
traordinary course of life, and of the innumerable pro 


digios which God wrought by him, &s there were men 
in all the eastern regions, not to say in the then known 
world, yet the great Theodoret, who undertook, whilst 
the Saint was yet living, to transmit, by writing, to 
posterity a faithful account of this wonder of the 
world, was afraid lest he should seem to succeeding 
acjes to have delivered to them a fabulous rather than 
a true history. But the divine providence which rais 
ed up this Saint in so extraordinary a manner, in or 
der to show forth the power of his grace to the whole 
world, and to rouse up by so great an example the 
drooping spirits of lukewarm Christians, as well as to 
enlighten the eyes and touch the hearts of thousands 
of infidels and sinners, was pleased that the wonder 
ful life of Simon should not only be perfectly well 
known at the time he lived through the whole extent 
of the Roman empire, and all the eastern nations bor 
dering thereon, but that for the edification of posterity 
it should also be written by cotemporary authors, and 
in so public a manner, that we may safely aver, there 
is no fact in history better authenticated. 

Our Saint was born towards the latter end of the 
fourth century, at a place called Sisan, upon the con 
fines of Syria and Cilicia. In his tender years he was 
employed by his parents in feeding their sheep in the 
country, so that he seems to have had but little op 
portunity of frequenting the church or hearing the 
word of God. But a great snow happening to fali 


one day, obliged him to leave the sheep under shelter 
at home, which afforded him leisure to go to church. 
No sooner had he entered the church than he became 
so extremely affected, and penetrated with the fear of 
God, as to give the utmost attention to the divine les~ 
sons that were read out of the Epistles of St. Paul and 
the gospel ; and after deeply reflecting on those words 
of the sermon upon the mount, blessed are thei/ thai 
mourn : and blessed are the clean of heart, &c. he 
addressed himself to an old man, who was one of the 
congregation, desiring to be further informed what he 
should do, and what course of life he should follow, 
that he might live up to these heavenly lessons and 
save his soul ? The good old man recommended a 
retired and solitary life as the most proper to establish 
solid virtue in his soul ; and spoke to him in so mov 
ing and affecting a manner, that the holy seed imme 
diately sunk so deep into his heart as to already begin 
to produce its fruit. The first thing he afterwards 
did, was to retire to a solitary place, where there was 
a church of the martyrs, and there, prostrate upon the 
ground with the utmost fervor of soul, he besought 
him who desires that all men should be saved, to 
vouchsafe to direct him in the way of perfect piety, in 
order to secure his eternal salvation. Having con 
tinued a long time in prayer, he fell into a profound 
sleo.p, in which he had the following vision. He seem 
ed to himself, as he related to Theodoret, to be dig* 


ging the ground, in order to lay the foundation of a 
building, and that he heard a voice which bid him 
dig still deeper. He did so, and then would have 
rested himself, but the voice a second time bid him yo 
deeper stilL And the same thing having been repeat 
ed four times, one after another, at length it was said 
to him that is dee}} enough, and that he had now noth 
ing more to do but to build. 

Arising from the ground, he went directly to a 
neighboring monastery, which was governed by a 
holy abbot named Timothy. Here he prostrated him 
self before the gate, employing three whole days and 
nights in fasting and prayer, without ever being taken 
notice of. At length the abbot coming out, he cast 
himself at his feet, and besought him with many 
tears to take pity on a poor soul in danger of perish 
ing, who was desirous to learn how to serve God. The 
abbot taking him by the hand, encouraged him, led 
him into the monastery, and recommended to the 
brethren to teach him the rule of the house, which 
he, being then only thirteen years old, quickly learnt, 
and practised with such perfection as to surpass all the 
rest in humility, as well as in the exercises of fasting 
and penance. Here also, in four months, he learnt 
the whole psalter by heart, and took great delight in 
meditating on, and feeding his soul with these heaven- 
fy hymns. In this monastery he remained two years, 
exhibiting a perfect pattern of a consummate virtue 


and piety in so tender an age. In the mean time his 
parents sought after him, and bewailed him as lost, 
whilst he, with greater reason, rejoiced at having now 
happily found both himself and his God. 

For his greater improvement in the silence of the 
saints he went from this religious house to another 
monastery, founded at a place called Teleda, near An- 
tioch, by the disciples of the Saints Ammian and Euse- 
bius, and governed at this time by the abbot Heliodo- 
rus, where he remained for about nine or ten years. 
There were in this monastery about eighty monks, but 
Simon excelled them all in the exercises of a relio-- 


\ous life ; for, whereas all the rest were accustomed to 
eat once a day, or at least once in two days, he fasted 
the whole week with such rigor as to eat nothing, ex 
cept only one meal on the Lord s day. Here, having 
procured a rope or cord, made of the leaves of palm- 
trees, so hard and rough that it could scarcely be even 
handled, he privately girt himself with it beneath his 
habit, next to his skin, so tightly, that it forced its 
way into the flesh, till it was almost covered, and the 
flesh itself became perfectly corrupted with it. He 
concealed what he suffered on this occasion with as 
much care as possible, till the religious at length found 
out how the case stood with him, and the abbot insisted 
upon his parting with the cord, which was with much 
:lifticulty, and not without putting him to great tos 
tures, disengaged from the flesh. 


After the wound occasioned by the cord was snred, 
the abbot dismissed him from the monastery, fearing 
lest any of the other religious might suffer prejudice-, 
by aiming at an imitation of his extraordinary auster 
ities. Simon, on this occasion, retiring into a mom 
remote and lonesome part of the mountain, found 
there a dry well, into which he went down and there 
sung the praises of God. Here he remained for severaJ 
days without either eating or drinking, till Heliodorws, 
repenting that he sent the Saint away in that manner,, 
desired two of the brethren to seek after him, and! 
bring him back again. These by the direction of 
some shepherds, who had heard him singing, found 
him out in his well, and with the help of a rope 
brought him up, and conducted him back to the mon 
astery, where he continued for a short time, and then 
betook himself to an abandoned hut near a village 
called Telanissus, situated at the foot of that moun 
tain on the top of which he afterwards finished his 

In this hut he lived shut up during three years : 
and here our Lord first inspired him with a desire of 
fasting the forty days of Lent, without taking any 
manner of corporal nourishment during the whole 
time. Upon this he desired Bassus, who was the ec 
clesiastical superior in that district, to wall up the dooi 
of his cell for that Lent, and leave him quite to him 
self without any thing for his food. Bassus remon 


stratod to him, that this would be an undertaking be 
yond the strength of man, and that to destroy himself 
which would be the inevitable consequence of such a 
fast, could be no act of virtue, but, on the contrary, a 
grievous crime. Leave with me then, father, said the 
Saint, ten loaves of bread and a pitcher of water, thai 
I may mae use of them in ease I find it necessary. 
Bassus accordingly furnished the Ibaves avid the water. 
;and then stopping up the door, departed, and did not 
return till the forty days were ended. As soon as 
Easter was come he hastened to visit the servant of 
3od, carrying with him the blessed sacrament ; but 
behold, after he had removed the stones and opened 
the door, he found the Saint lying extended on the 
floor like one dead, without speech or motion, with 
the ten loaves and the water quite untouched.. How 
ever, as he found life still remaining in him, he dipped 
,a sponge in the water with which he moistened his 
mouth, and then gave him the holy communion. 
With this heavenly food he was again raised up, and 
further enabled to recover his strength, by taking in a 
little nourishment from the juice of herbs and pulse. 
This fast of forty days during Lent, without either eat-- 
ing or drinking any thing whatever, from this time 
brward, he constantly observed every year through 
out the remainder of his life, which time and custom 
had at length made easy to him. For at the begin 
ning, after passing the first part of Lent, standing and 


praising God, lie was obliged, as he grew weaker, to 
sit down, and in this posture to perform the divine 
office, till towards the latter end his weakness forced 
him to lie down stretched out at full length, as one 
half dead, and on this account, during the first yean 
of his living and standing upon the pillar, he was ob 
liged, for the latter part of his forty days fast, to sup 
port himself by the help of a post fastened to his pil 
lar for this purpose, to which he caused himself to be 
tied as he became weaker. But for many years be 
fore his death God had strengthened him so far as not 
to stand in need of any help, but pass the whole time 
of Lent with all the cheerfulness imaginable, without 
any nourishment or human support whatsoever. 

From his hut near Telanissus, the Saint went up to 
the top of the neighboring mountain, and there made 
for himself an inclosure of stones, without any cover 
ing, in which he remained for some years, taking no 
other nourishment but boiled lentiles and water, and 
by the means of a chain, one end of which he fastened 
to his right leg, and the other to a great stone, he con 
fined himself to such narrow limits as not to be able 
to go beyond the length of his chain. But if he was 
chained in body, his soul remained at liberty, and was 
continually flying up towards God, hy mental prayer 
and contemplation. This chain, upon the rern^nstran- 
ces of Melecius, a Chorepiscopus under the patriarch 
of Antioch, he suffered to be taken away. At which 


time, as Theodoret learnt from Melecius himself, after 
the smith had. filed off the iron, when they came ta 
Uke away the leather which the Saint had put next 
to his skin, to hinder the chain from entering into hia 
flesh, as the cord had done before, they found in \i 
about twenty large puneezes, jr bugs, which this pre 
late thought worthy of particular notice, to show the 
wonderful patience of the Saint, who had quietly suf 
fered for so long a time the troublesome bites of these 
insects, when he might with so much ease have rid 
himself of them at once by destroying them. 

And now the reputation of Simon s sanctity being 
spread far and near, great multitudes began to resort 
to him on account of the many miraculous graces of 
every kind that were obtained through the efficacy of 
his prayers and benedictions, struggling with each 
other who should first come near him and touch lik 
garments, believing that those coarse skins wherewith 
he was clad, would impart to them a blessing 
This became so troublesome and insupportable to tb.e 
Saint, as to first suggest to him the thought of living 
upon a pillar, in order to be out of the reach of the 
crowd ; to which he was no doubt instigated by a par 
ticular inspiration from God, who designed, by the 
means of this extraordinary manner of living, to draw 
great numbers of infidels to the faith, ;ind of Chris 
tians to a virt \tous and penitential life. 

He began this new way of life, which was never bo 


fore attempted by any other, about the year of Christ 
526, and continued it till his death, which happened 
about seven and thirty years afterwards. The pillar 
which he caused to be made at first was but six cubits, 
that is three yards high, which he afterwards exchanged 
for one of twelve cubits, and again, for one of twenty- 
two cubits ; but that on which he finished his course 
was thirty-six cubits, that is eighteen yards in height. 
Its diameter, as we learn from Evagrius, was at the 
most but two cubits, or one yard ; so that he could 
not, if he would, lie down upon it at his length. In 
the mean time he had no covering or shelter to defend 
himself either from the rigor of the winter, the heats 
of the summer, the violence of the rain or wind, or 
from other injuries of the air. His ordinary posture 
was standing night and day, without any other sup 
port but the strength of faith and divine grace. In 
his prayer he very frequently bowed himself down to 
adore God, and that in so profound a manner as to 
bring his forehead almost to his toes. His rigorous 
fasts, for he never eat but once a week, and thai 
next to nothing, reduced his body to so low a condi 
tion as to make it easy to him. These adorations he 
repeated so frequently, that we learn from Theoderet, 
that whilst this holy prelate was himself present, one 
of his attendants counted them to the number of 1244. 
He often remained for a considerable space of .time in 
prayer, bowed down in this manner with his forehead 


upon the pillar and this, it is probable, might also bo 
the posture in which he slept ; for certain it is, that 
he sometimes slept, though fame had published tint 
he lived without either sleeping or eating. Be this as 
it may, he certainly slept but very little ; for, as ha 
generally passed the greatest part of the night in 
prayer, so he did the best part of the day, even till the 
ninth hour, viz. three in the afternoon, when he made 
his exhortations to the people. But on the eves, or 
vigils of the festivals, he not only passed the whole 
night in prayer, but stood all the time on his feet, 
with his hands stretched forth and extended towards 

The other holy inhabitants of the oriental deserts 
hearing of the new and extraordinary manner of life 
which the Saint had undertaken, having consulted to 
gether, sent a deputation to him, as we learn from the 
historian Evagrius, lib. 1, chap. 13, to ask him the rea 
son of his leading so unheard of a course of life, or 
of leaving the common road which had been beaten 
by all the Saints and the holy fathers who were gone 
before him ; and to order him to come down imme 
diately from his pillar : giving, nevertheless, instruc 
tions to their deputy, that if Simon should show him- 
E.cif ready to obey, he should suffer him -to remain 
thereon, and encourage him to proceed in his under- 
laking, as showing by his readv obedience that what 
he did was not from caprice, but by divine inspiration* 


but that if he refused to obey, he should oblige him 
to come down by force. The deputy had no sooner 
delivered his commission, than the Saint, without 
making the least reply or demur, presently disposed 
himself to obey, and to come down. Whereupon the 
deputy told him to continue where he WJM, for his 
undertaking was from God. 

This the Almighty himself sufficiently manifested 
by the many miraculous gifts and graces he bestowed 
upon him, of which there were in his life-time mil 
lions of witnesses, as there was an incredible multi 
tude from all parts of the world continually assembled 
to behold this wonder of the world, to hear his divine 
instructions, and seek remedies through him for all 
their evils. " For you shall not only see there," says 
Theodorct, "the inhabitants of our province, Syria, 
but also the Ishmaelites, Saracens of Arabia, Persians, 
Armenians, Iberians," Ethiopians, and other nations 
which are still more remote. There came also people 
to him from the farthest part of the west, viz. from 
Spain, Britain, Gaul, and other neighboring provinces ; 
and as to Italy, it is needless to say any thing, since 
we are assured that his name is so illustrous in Rome, 
that they even set up little pictures of him in their 
shops and porches for a protection and defence." Sc 
far Theodoret writlig, whilst the Saint was yet living, 
the things of which he himself had been witness. He 
also gives several instances of the spirit of prophecy 


which lie had experienced in this Saint, and of great 
and evident miracles wrought before his own eyes, and 
adds, that great numbers of infidels, by occasion cf 
this Saint, were daily brought over to the faith of 
Christ. " One," says he, " may see the Iberians, Ar 
menians, and Persians coining to receive baptism. 
And as to the Saracens, they come to him in large 
companies of two or three hundreds, or even of a 
thousand at a time, abjuring, with a loud voice, their 
false religion, treading their idols under their feet, in 
the presence of this bright light of Christianity, em 
bracing the divine mysteries of our holy faith, and re 
ceiving from the sacred mouth of this man of God 
the rules of life which they were to follow for the 
time to come. " I myself," says Theodoret, " have 
been witness of all this." 

As to the rest, the same learned and holy prelate 
gives an ample testimony to the unparalleled modesty 
and humility of this great servant of God, and of his 
wonderful meekness and affability to persons of all 
conditions, how poor or mean soever they were accord 
ing to the world. But nothing was so admirable in 
him as that invincible patience, constancy, courage, 
and alacrity wherewith he underwent, for so long a 
series of years, the voluntary austerities of so severe 
and rigid a course of penance, which for a great part 
of the time was rendered still more difficult and in 
supportable by a dreadful- ulcer in his left foot, which 


he had contracted by his continual standing, and 
which sent forth corrupted blood and vermin. Never 
theless, with all his fasting, watching, prayer, and 
other austerities, he ceased not to labor daily for the 
ialvation of the souls of his neighbors, by delivering 
to them from his pillar twice a day excellent exhorta 
tions to take off their hearts from this wretched earth 
to set always before their eyes that everlasting king 
dom which we hope for hereafter to tremble at the 
threats of eternal torments to despise all that passes 
with time, and ever to aspire after the good things of 
the Lord, in the land of the living. He was also eve? 
ready to give ghostly counsel to all who came ; to 
hearken to their demands, cure their diseases, accom 
modate their differences, &c. ; and not only to attend 
to the private necessities of particulars, but much 
more to every occasion by which he might promote 
the common good of the church; dictating some 
times letters, to this end, to prelates, to governors, and 
even to the emperor himself. Thus he usually em 
ployed his time from the third hour after mid-day till 
the sunset, and then he gave his benediction to the 
people, which they received with great reverence, and 
thus bid adieu to men to converse with his Go*1 

At length the time being come in which God had 
decreed to crown the patience and labors of his servant 
with eternal glory, upon a Friday, anno Chrisli, 496, 


having bowed down, according to his custom in 
prayer, he gave up bis happy soul into the bands of 
him whom he had so constantly and so faithfully 
served. His body, after bis death, remained in the 
same posture from Friday till Sunday in the afternoon, 
no one in the mean time knowing that he was dead ; 
because it was no unusual thing for the Saint to pass 
whole days in prayer, so as to omit his ordinary times 
of speaking to the people. But on Sunday in the 
afternoon, his disciple Antonius going up the pillar by 
a ladder, found that he was dead, and immediately 
gave private notice of it to the patriarch of Antioch, 
and to the governor of the province, in order to pre 
vent any tumult that might be raised by the people 
contending about his body. The patriarch Martyrius, 
accompanied with six other bishops, and escorted by 
the governor with 6000 soldiers, came without delay, 
and taking the body of the Saint down from the pil 
lar, carried it away with great solemnity to Antioch, 
where it was interred. God was pleased to work 
many great miracles by his intercession, as well at 
his monument in that city, as at his pillar where he 
lived and died. His name is recorded in the Roman 
Martyrology on the third of September. 

There were divers other saints of the name of Simon, 
ibo are also celebrated in church history. Amongst 
the rest St. Simon the ancient, whose life is also given 
oy Theodoret in his Philotheus, of whom he relates 

272 ST. 

that he had the very lions of the desert tt his bock, 
St. Simon Stylites the younger, who also passed his 
life upon a pillar, and is recorded in the Roman Mar- 
tyrology, September the third ; St. Simon, surnamed 
Salus, whose name is registered in the same Mrtyrolo- 
gy, July the first, with the following eulogium : " At 
Emcsa, St. Simon, confessor, surnamed Salus, who 
became a fool for Christ ; but his profound wisdom 
God declared by great miracles" 


from his Life, by Cyrillus. a faithful cotemporary 

EUTHYMIUS, surnamed the great was born at Melitenc 
in the lesser Armenia, of noble and virtuous parents, 
anno 377. He was a child of prayer, his parents hav 
ing obtained him of God after a long barrenness, by 
the intercession of St. Polyceutus, the martyr ; and 
having dedicated him to God from his mother s womb, 
at the age of three years he was put in the hands of 
the holy bishop Otteus, and from that time was 
brought up like another Samuel, in the temple of 
God, in the exercises of any early piety, and in the 
study of the holy scriptures, on which he constantly 


meditated, even in those leisure hours which others of 
his age spend in their diversions. He was ordained 
lector when yet a bo} T , and gradually promoted to the 
higher orders, giving great edification through them 
, ill, till he was thought worthy of the priestly function 
and then had the conduct, by commission, from th(3 
bishop, of all the i^onasteries of the diocese of Meli- 
tene. In the mean time it was his custom to retire a f , 
often as he could, from all other business to attend to 
God and himself in solitude and silence, to which he 
had a great inclination from his childhood, to spend a 
great part of his time in prayer in the churches of the 
martyrs, and to make an annual retreat alone by him 
self during the whole time of Lent, in a desert moun 
tain, at some distance from the city. His love for soli 
tude and retirement still increasing upon him, at length 
determined him to withdraw himself entirely from his 
own country, his friends, and acquaintance, and to go 
into the Holy Land ; where, after visiting and rever 
encing the places consecrated by the mysteries of our 
redemption, he chose for his abode a solitary place, 
about six miles from Jerusalem, called Pharan, in the 
neighborhood of a Laura, or residence of divers reli 
gious men, living in separate cells at some distance 
from each other, but meeting for their devotions io 
the same church, as the hermits of Camalduli do &i 

This solitude was quite congenial with his incline 


tions to retirement and silence, and therefore he male 
himself a cell here, employing his hands in making 
mats, or in other manual labors, that he might live 
without being burthensome to any one, and be en 
abled to relieve such as were in want, having his 
heart entirely fixed on God, and making it his whole 
study to please him. Here divine providence brought 
him acquainted with a holy solitary, named Theoctis- 
tus, who had his cell not far off, and who followed the 
same manner of life ; and the likeness of their dispo 
sitions united them so closely together in the bands 
of a most perfect friendship and charity, that they 
seemed to be animated with one and the same heart 
and soul. Amongst other exercises of piety, these 
two servants of God never failed to make every year 
a spiritual retreat, which they began after the Epiph 
any, and continued till Palm-Sunday. At this time 
they quitted their cells and retired into the wilderness 
of Cutila, where being wholly separated from all con 
versation with mortals, they spent their whole time 
with God in prayer and contemplation till Palm-Sun 
day, when they returned home again, laden with the 
spiritual riches which they had acquired in their re 
treat, to offer them up to our Lord Jesus Christ, at 
the festival of his passion and resurrection. 

Euthymius had practised this for some years, wheE 
he and Theoctistus, going according to their custom 
intv the wilderness, were conducted by providence ta 


the banks of a rapid torrent, where they discovered 
a large cavern of very difficult access, which they em 
braced as a place assigned by heaven for their happi- 
ress. Here they lived for some time, quite seclude.! 
from all human society, having no other food whereon 
to subsist but the wild herbs of the desert. But as 
ihe Almighty designed to bring about the salvation 
rf many souls by the means of these his servants, lie 
Jid not suffer the place of their abode to remain long 
a secret. They were at first discovered bv certain 
shepherds, who published to the neighboring village 
their place of residence and manner of life. This dis 
covery brought about visits from the inhabitants, who 
cheerfully furnished them with necessaries for their 
temporal life, and in return received from them whole- 
s-me instructions and exhortations, in order to their 
et ?rnal life. 

Shortly after the monks of Pharan also came to 
vi. it them, when the sanctity of their discourse and 
m inner of life moved two of them, Marinus and Lu 
es;,, who were afterwards great Saints, and by degrees 
inny others from other places, to put themselves un- 
dt r their direction, so that after some time they built 
a monastery in the same place, and converted their 
ca\:rn into a church. Euthyrnius committed the di- 
reiv.ion ard superintendency of this monastery to 
The octistu-i, whilst lie himself enjoyed the sweets of 
his belcT^d silence and repose, seated with Mary af 


the feet of our Lord, yet so as often to interrupt his 
contemplation, by laboring to purify the souls of hia 
brethren from their stains, and, like a skilful physi 
cian, to apply proper remedies for the cure of all their 
evils ; for they came daily to discover their most 
secret thoughts to him, and to receive the rules and 
lessons of a spiritual life from his mouth, while Theoc- 
tistus for his part did nothing without his advice and 

He spoke to them all with the affection of n father, 
and constantly incalculcated to them, "That they who 
by their religious profession had renounced the world, 
and the things of the world, should make it their 
principal study to exercise themselves in humility and 
obedience, and divest themselves of their own will ; 
they should have always the hour of their death be 
fore their eyes tremble at the apprehension of a mis 
erable eternity, and continually aspire, with the most 
ardent desires, after the kingdom of heaven ; that 
they should also incessently employ themselves in 
manual labors, more especially when of an age in 
which the passions of youth stand in need of being 
kept under, for in that case the body must be brought 
down by labor, that it may be obliged to submit to 
the spirit ; and that they should ever remember both 
the example and tbe doctrine of St. Paul, who says, 
2 Thess. iii. 10. If any man ivill not work, neitJier 
let him eat t &c. He also strenuously recommended 


iilence, particularly in church and at rne^is, and could 
never endure to see any of the young religious, by a 
motion of their own will, affect to appear more aus 
tere than the rest in fasting, being desirous that, ac 
cording to the precept of the Gospel, they should ra 
ther hide their good works than make them known. 
He preferred that kind of abstinence, as the most com 
mendable, which at every meal, and upon every oc 
casion, restrains the appetite from taking its fill, and 
always retrenches, without ostentation, some part of 
what it craves. He added, that they should always 
be upon their guard to resist every irregular desire ; 
that they should carry their arms always about 
with them to defend themselves again t their invisible 
enemies, and meditate day and night upon the law of 

Whilst Euthymius was in this monastery, Aspebet, 
governor of a canton of Saracens, brought his son Te- 
rebon, who had quite lost the use of one half of his 
body by a dead palsy, to be cured by the Saint. The 
religious seeing a multitude of these barbarians coin 
ing towards their monastery were all in a fright ; but 
Theoctistus, as Euthymius was then employed in his 
spiritual exercises, encouraged them ; and going forth 
to meet the band, he asked them what they wanted ? 
Aspebet answered, we want to see Euthymius. He 
is in his retirement, said Theoctistus, and will neither 
lee nor speak to any one till Saturday Then Aspo* 



bet showed him his son, whose whole right side wai 
withered in such a manner as to appear quite dead, 
and made a sign to the youth to tell him his case, 
The boy said he had been struck with this disorder 
in Persia, where his father then resided in the service 
cf king Isdegerdes ; that in order to his cure they had 
not only employed all the natural remedies of physic, 
but also the secrets of magic, to no effect ; and that 
since he came with his father into Arabia, they had 
ngain tried new experiments upon him, but all to no 
purpose. Wherefore finding that there was no suc 
cor to be had from man, he had turned his thoughts 


towards the great God that made man, and prayed to 
him one night with great fervor, to restore him to 
health, promising in that case, that he would dedicate 
himself to his service, and become a Christian. That 
after this prayer he had fallen asleep and seen, in a 
dream, a venerable monk, who said his name was 
Euthymius ; that he lived upon the bank of the tor 
rent in the wilderness, near the road that leads to 
Jericho, at about ten miles distance from Jerusalem : 
and that if he desired to be cured, and was disposed 
to fulfil his promise, he should come to him, and that 
God would restore him again to his health. 

Theoctistus having heard this, went in and related 
the whole to Euthymius, and both of them concluding 
that the visions must certainly have come from God, 
the Saint interrupted his retreat upon this occasion 


and going out prayed over the young man, and made 
the sign of the cross upon him, at which he was in an 
instant perfectly cured, to the great astonishment of 
the multitude of barbarians present, who were all con 
verted upon the spot, and after proper instructions re 
ceived baptism. Aspebet took the name of Peter, and 
made such progress in Christian piety, as to be after 
wards ordained bishop of the Saracens, and Maris his 
brother-in-law, quitted the world entirely to become a 
disciple of St. Euthymius. 

The fame of this great miracle being spread through 
out the country, brought such numbers from all parts 
to visit the Saint, and seek the cure of their maladies 
which they usually obtained by his prayers, that partly 
to avoid the danger of vain-glory, and partly to enjoy 
his belovod solitude with more freedom, taking with 
him a holy man whose name was Domitian, he with 
drew himself privately from his monastery into the 
desert of Kuban, that lies more to the south, near the 
lake of Sodom. Here for some time he fixed his 
abode in a high mountain, on the top of which he 
discovered a well, and some ancient ruins, with which 
he built a chapel and an altar, living the whole time 
on the wild herbs he found there. From hence he 
went to the desert of Ziph, wher*~ David formerly had 
concealed himself when he was persecuted by Saul, 
the recollection of which pleased him much ; but it 
was not long before the inhabitants of a neighboring 


town, called Auistobulias, found him out, by means of 
a young man possessed by an evil spirit, who had fre 
quently the name of Euthymius in his mouth, and 
was wonderfully delivered as soon as he was brought 
within sight of the Saint. This miracle brought him 
many disciples, for whom the people of the neighbor 
hood built a monastery, which the Saint for some 
time directed in the ways of religious perfection. 
But his love of solitude induced him to quit this mon 
astery also, where he found himself much importuned 
and distracted by visitors from all parts, and to seek 
out with his companion Domitian a place more agree 
able to his inclination for retnement, which he at 
length met with in a cavern not far distant from his 
former monastery. Theoctistus, whom he had left su 
perior there, with all the rest of the brethren, besought 
him to retnrn to them again : but the most they could 
obtain of him was, that he would visit them every 
Sunday, and be present at their assemblies. 

Aspebet, now named Peter, hearing where the 
Saint was, introduced a great number of the Saracens 
x> him who were desirious of becoming Christians, 
ffhpm Euthymius instructed and baptized. These 
new converts being desirous of remaining under his 
direction, he appointed them a place at a small dis 
tance for the building themselves a church and other 
dwellings, where he often visited them to instruct them 
in the way of eternal life, till finding them sufficiently 


grounded in Christian piety, he procured them a priest 
and some deacons for the care of their church, and the 
administration of the sacraments. But as by the 
daily arrival of many more, the number of his converts 
became very considerable, he proposed to Juvenal, the 
patriarch of Jerusalem, to give them also a bishop, 
who might take charge of all the Saracens of Pales 
tine. The patriarch readily complied with the Saint s 
proposition, and ordained Aspebet, or Peter, to this 
function, by whose means God daily added others to 
his church. 

Hitherto Euthymius, through his love of solitude, 
had recommended all such as resorted to him, in order 
to embrace a religious life, to the monastery of Theoc- 
tistus, till he was admonished in a vision to build a 
laura And church for the reception of such as desired 
to put themselves under his direction, which was soon 
filled with a multitude of religious souls. The number 
of the monks, joined to the barrenness of the place, 
made it difficult to procure sufficient provisions in that 
wilderness ; but the providence of God never forsook 
his servants whose whole care was to please him. It 
happened one day, that four hundred Armenians, in 
returning from Jerusalem toward the Jor.lan, missed 
their way, and came down to the laura of Euthymius. 
The Saint seeing them, immediately gave orders that 
they should be hospitably entertained. Domitian re 
presented to him, that the community was reduced ta 


so great straits that they had not "bread enough fof 
the brethren, not even for one meal. The Saint, full 
of confidence in God, bid him go to the bakehouse, 
and see what he should find there. He obeyed, and 
found the room covered with bread and other provi 
sions in such abundance that he could hardly thrust 
the door open. 

God also favored his servant with the gifts of pro 
phecy, of which our author mentions several remark 
able instances. As to the manner of life which he 
here followed, he assures us, from the testimony of 
those that were the best acquainted with him, that he 
was never seen to eat but on Saturdays or Sundays 
that he never wilfully broke silence nor opened his lips 
but when necessity obliged him to speak, that he 
never laid himself down to repose, but slept sitting 
and adds, that he was a close imitator of the great St. 
Arsenius, and was highly delighted with hearing from 
the religious who came from Egypt the particulars of 
his life and conversation. He had always these words 
of Arsenius present in hi? minfl. ; Arsenius, Arsenius, 
on what account didst thou leave the world ? and strive 
to copy out in his own practice all the great exam 
ples that Saint had given of humility recollection 
poverty of spirit love of silence and solitude per- 
etual compunction of heart profusion of tears in the 
ight of God and continual watching, fasting and 


There happened in those days so great a drought in 
Palestine, that it seemed, according to the expression 
of the Scripture, as if the heavens were of brass, and 
the earth of iron. The cisterns and receptacles which 
they had made for water were filled with nothing but 
dust, and the whole country was reduced to the utmost 
extremity for want of rain. As the evil increased 
daily, an infinite multitude of the people of the towns 
and villages round about, carrying crosses in their 
hands, and singing Kyrie eleison, to implore the divine 
mercy, came to the Saint on the very day when he 
was going out, according to his custom, to make his 
retreat in the wilderness, as a preparation for Easter, 
The sight of their distress moved him to compassion, 
and he spoke to them as follows : " My children, as for 
oiy part, I am but a wretched sinner, and stand more 
in need than any other of the mercy of God, especially 
at this time in which we see his wrath thus enkindled 
against sinners, and therefore I am not so bold as to 
dare to lift up my eyes to him, as I know that he 
>ends these afflictions when he pleases ; and that, as 
10 one can shut when he is pleased to open, so no one 
;an open when he is pleased to shut. Our sins have 
leparated us from him we have disfigured his image 
we have defiled his temple we have suffered our 
selves to be carried away by our passions ; envy and 
avarice reign amongst us, and our hatred against each 
other render us Wefril to him : but as he is the foun- 


tain of all goodness, and as his rrtercy knows no 
bounds, let us all prostrate ourselves before his foce, 
and pray to him from the very bottom of our hearts, 
and I make no doubt but that he will forgive us, and 
give us a proof of his fatherly love by the seasonable 
aid he will send us ; for as David says, The Lord is 
near to all them that call upon him? After he had 
thus spoken to the people, all cried out, begging that 
he would pray for them ; whereupon, after exhorting 
them to join in prayer to the Lord with the greatest 
fervor of which they were capable, he retired with his 
religious into their oratory, and lying prostrate on the 
ground with many tears implored the divine mercy ; 
when behold a sudden wind arose, the heavens were 
obscured by thick clouds, and immediately such an 
abundance of rain came pouring down as quite soaked 
the whole earth which was followed by the most fruit 
ful year that had ever been known in Palestine in 
the memory of man. 

The Saint had such an extraordinary zeal for the 
maintenance of the purity of the Catholic faith, that 
he, who was otherwise the meekest of men, could not 
endure the obstinate abettors of condemned errors. 
In his days a wicked heresy was broached by Eutychea, 
a monk of Constantinople, who denied the distinction 
of the divine and human nature in Christ. Though 
his impious doctrine was condemned by the Council 
of Chalcedon. still there were not wanting many chil 


dren of iniquity, who instead of submitting to thra 
great authority, spread abroad such infamous slanders 
against that council, and misrepresentations of the 
Catholic doctrine, as alienated the minds of many from 
the faith ; the principal of whom was Theodosius, a 
monk of Palestine, who under a religious habit cover 
ed a diabolical spirit, and by his wicked insinuations 
and downright calumnies, prejudiced the mind of the 
empress Eudocia, who was at that time in Palestine, 
against the council, and by the means of her interest, 
and the great liberalities she exercised towards the re 
ligious, gained the greatest part of them over to the 
Eutychian faction, the disciples of St. Euthymius ex- 
cepted. Not content with this, having intruded him 
self into the patriarchal see of Jerusalem, he declared 
open war against all such as opposed themselves to 
his impiety, banished the orthodox bishops from their 
sees, and even imbrued his hands in the blood of some 
of them. In the mean time Euthymius opposed him 
self as a wall for the house of Israel, and constantly 
refused to have any manner of communication with 
this false patriarch ; but as he was continually ply 
ing him with messages, in order to bring him over to 
bis side, by reason of the neighborhood of the laura 
f the Saint to the city of Jerusalem, he assembled 
his disciples, and having powerfully exhorted them to 
constancy in the Catholic faith, he withdrew into the 
desert of Ruban, where he remained till the usurper 


was obliged to quit Jerusalem, and the patriarch Jtt 
venal was restored to his see. 

In the mean time he brought back to the Church 
an excellent anchoret, whose name was Gerasimus, 
who had been also imposed upon, with many others, 
and drawn in to be an abettor of the impious Theodo- 
sious, till hearing of the eminent sanctity of Euthy- 
mius, he went to confer with him in the wilderness of 
Ruban, and by his heavenly discourses was fully re 
claimed from his error, and conceived a deep and bit 
ter regret at having suffered himself to be deceived, 
for which he did severe penance. His example was 
followed by four other anchorets, who, in like manner, 
renounced the communion of Theodosius. Gerasi- 
mus afterwards built a laura and a monastery near 
the Jordan, where he trained up many souls in great 
perfection, and closed a life of extraordinary sanctity 
by so happy a death as to have his name enrolled 
amongst the saints. See the Roman Martyrology, 
March the fifth. 

The empress Eudocia, nfter having for a long time 
resisted the solicitations of her nearest relations, be 
gan at length to open her eyes to the bright rays of 
the catholic truth, and in order to her instruction 
therein she sent to St. Simon Stylites, as one to whom 
God imparted extraordinary lights to direct souls in 
the way of salvation, and opened to him, by her ines- 
aenger, the bishop Anastasius, the whole state of Ue> 


interior. The Saint exhorted her to disengage her 
self effect jally from the nets of Satan in which hei 
soul had been entangled by the means of the impious 
Theodosious, and for this purpose desired she would 
address herself to St. Euthymius, and to receive from 
liis mouth the pure words of life. Having complied 
with the advice of the Saint, and being reconciled to 
the Catholic Church, her example was followed by 
great numbers both of the religious and laity. This 
princess, after having built a great many churches, 
monasteries, and hospitals, conceived a design of ex 
tending her beneficence also to the laura of St. Eu 
thymius, which the Saint had founded in great pov 
erty : but before she had declared her mind to any 
one living, Euthymius, who by a divine light often 
discovered the secrets of hearts, told her, " Daughter, 
your departure out of this world is near at hand ; 
wherefore, instead of busying yourself with all these 
cares, attend to your own interior, and think of pre 
paring yourself for your journey hence, rather than 
of settling revenues upon us ; we want nothing else 
of you, but that you would remember us in your 
prayers." The empress followed his advice, and some 
months after made a happy end. 

Amongst other favors which our Lord did to his 
sen-ant Euthymius, our author relates, from the testi 
mony of the anchoret Cyriacus, who learnt it from 
two eye-witnesses, that me day whilst the Saint wa* 


laying mass, a bright fire was seen to come dowi 
upon his head, which encompassed both him and his 
disciple Domitian, and remained from the Sanctu* 
till after the communion. He was also often favored 
with the vision of angels at the time of his offering 
the holy sacrifice ; and when he distributed the holy 
communion, he saw in spirit the different dispositions 
of the communicants ; perceiving how the sacred host 
cast rays of light upon some, and darkness upon others, 
who, by being unworthy, received it to their own con 
demnation. The Saint was so affected with this vision, 
as to be ever after perpetually inculcating to his relig 
ious, the necessity of keeping their conscience always 
pure, that they may worthily approach to the divine 
mysteries : that holy things were for holy persons : 
and therefore when any of them found their conscience 
charged with the guilt, either of hatred, or the desire 
of revenge, upon receiving an injury ; or of envy, or 
of wrath, or of pride, or of speaking evil of their 
neighbor, or of entertaining loose thoughts or criminal 
desires, or of any other vice, they should by no means 
present themselves at the divine table, till they had in 
a proper manner, expiated their sins by penance. 

And now the man of God, after having passed 
about sixty-seven years in the deserts of Palestine, 
which by this time he had peopled with a multitude 
of Saints, was given to understand, by divine revela 
tion, that, the time of laying down his earthly taben 

ST. EUTllYMlttS, ^89 

nacie was near at liana. It was his custom, after the 
Epiphany, to begin his annual retreat, and to with 
draw himself into the remoter parts of the wilderness, 
hiiere he continued his spiritual exercises till Holy 
Week. Wherefore, his disciples Elias and Martyrius 
(both of them afterwards, according- to his prediction, 
patriarchs of Jerusalem), who were used to accompany 
him on this occasion, came on the octave of that fes 
tival to ask him if they were not to set out with him 
on the day following? The saint replied, that he 
would spend that week with them at home in the 
laura, but that on Saturday at midnight he would 
leave them. He passed the vigil of the feast of St. 
Antony, Jan. 17, with them in prayer, .and after the 
morning lauds, told them this was the. last vigil he 
should keep with them. Then having ordered all bin 
religious to be assembled, delivered to them an excel 
lent discourse, telling them that his hour was now at 
hand, and conjuring them, if they had any regard 01 
affection for him, to show it, by faithfully and con 
stantly practising the lessons he had taught them. Is 
particular he recommended to them charity and hu 
mility as the two principal ingredients of Christian 
perfection, telling them, that if all Christians wero 
bound to exercise themselves in these virtues, much 
more they who by their religious profession had in a 
particular manner consecrated themselves to Jestw 
Christ, to the end,, that being freed from all secular 


cares and ejections, they might have no other solic 
it ade but to please him. " Labor then," said he, " my 
brethren, with all your might to keep both your 
bodies and minds ever chaste ; continue all of you 
together to praise and glorify God ; practise with all 
possible diligence the rule he has given us, do all in 
your power to comfort the afflicted, and to fortify by 
your exhortations and instructions such amongst the 
brethren as labor under temptations, that they may 
not fall a pray to the enemy. Let your gate be 
always open to hospitality ; divide the little you 
have with the poor and indigent, and the divine boun 
ty will not fail to furnish you with all that shall be 
needful for yourselves." 

After having spoken to this effect, he asked them 
whom they desired to have for their superior after his 
death ? They all, with one voice, desired it might be 
Domitian. " That cannot be," said the Saint, " for he 
shall not survive me above seven days." Whereupon 
they made choice of Elias, to whom the Saint earnest 
ly recommended the care of his ilock. After this they 
retired, and Domitian alone remained with the Saint, 
who, after three days departed to our Lord at the 
precise time he had foretold, and his happy soul was 
seen at that very time by St. Gerasimus carried up by 
angels towards her heavenly country. His individual 
companion Domitian, within seven da.vs, took tha 
ame happy road, being invited on the eve of his deatb 


in a vision in his sleep, by St. Euthymius, to come 
with him to the regions of light and life everlasting, 
where they should live together for ever in the king 
dom of their Father. St. Euthymius has a place in 
the Roman Martyrology on the twentieth of January. 


From, a cotemporary Writer, published "by Bollandus. 

THEODOSIUS, surnamed the Cenobiarch, from the mul 
titude of religious whom he trained up in a convent 
ual life, was born near Cesarea in Cappadocia, anno 
423. Being educated by his parents in the fear of 
God, he from his tender years gave such proofs of vir 
tue and piety as to be ordained a lector to read the 
holy Scriptures to the faithful in the church. What, 
he read to others penetrated and made a deep impres 
sion on his own heart. The words of God to Abra 
ham, Gen. xii. Go forth out of thy country, and 
from thy kindred, and out of thy father s house, <fec. 
affected him as much as if they had been addressed 
to himself; as also that promise of our Lord in the 
Gospel of conferring everlasting life on those who 
should quit all things for love of him. By frequently 
meditating on these and such like passages of holy 


writ, he was at length determined to follow the call 
of God, and forsake every thing in this world, that he 
might more securely find the kingdom of heaven. 

In consequence of this resolution he set out to go 
find visit the holy places at Jerusalem, taking Antioch 
in his way, in the neighborhood of which St. Simon 
Stylites was then living upon his pillar. Theodosius 
went to see the Saint, being desirous to recommend 
himself to Ins prayers, and receive his benediction. 
No sooner had he come near the pillar, than Simon 
cried out, Welcome Theodosius, servant of God, and 
presently desired he would ascend to him by a ladder. 
After mutual embraces, he foretold to him all that 
.should afterwards befal him, and in particular that he 
should have the direction of a numerous flock, and 
should rescue by the aid of divine grace, many souls 
from the jaws of the infernal wolf. Theodosius being 
confirmed in his good resolution by his conference 
with so great a Saint, proceeded in his journey to Je 
rusalem, where, after reverencing the holv places, ho 
went and placed himself under the direction of Lon- 
ginus, an eminent servant of God, who dwelt by him 
self in a small lodge in the tower of David, where 
partly under him, partly under Marinus and Lucas, 
disciples of St. Euthymius, he learnt the true science 
of the saints to such perfection, as to become himself 
a most excellent master and teacher, both by word 
and example, of this heavenly discipline. 


Some time after he was moved, by divine inspira 
tion, to seek a more retired solitude, where he might 
lead an anchoretical life. For this purpose, withdrawing 
himself into the wilderness, he made choice of a cav 
ern, which he found on the side of a mountain, for the 
place of his habitation during the remainder of the 
days of his mortality. Here he lived for the space of 
thirty years in a mortal body, as if he had been an 
immortal spirit, in the constant exercise of watching, 
fasting and prayer, together with such a continual re 
collection of thought, fervor of spirit, humility of 
heart, and abundance of tears, as could not fail to 
draw down the graces and gifts of the spirit of God, 
in the most abundant manner upon his soul. His 
only food during this long period of time, was dates 
or pulse, moistened in cold water, or wild herbs, with 
out any bread whatsoever. He embraced labors with 
as much ardor as others do their pleasures, and avoided 
pleasures as much as others do labors. Although 
he desired nothing so much as to live concealed from 
the eyes of men, yet it was impossible for him to keep 
himself so secretly in his cavern, but that the bright 
light of his extraordinary sanctity should break out 
and cast its rays both far and near, and invite many 
to him, who were desirous to place themselves under 
his conduct, and learn the secrets of religious perfec 
fection. It was with difficulty he at first received any 
one into his company ; but his charitable solicitude foi 


the salvation of the souls of his neighbors, prevailed 
over his love of solitude, and the great success which 
attended his conduct and direction of souls, proved 
that it was the holy will of God he should be thus 

Although the number of his disciples did not at the 
beginning exceed six or seven, who all lived with him 
in his cavern, yet they gradually increased ; and as 
they all made it their business to seek in the first place 
the kingdom of God with all their power, divine Pro* 
vidence never failed to add over and above the neces 
saries of this present life. One Easter-eve, when the 
Saint had now twelve disciples with him in his cavern, 
it happened that they had nothing whatever to eat : 
but what gave them most concern was, that they had 
not even bread for the divine sacrifice. This they re 
presented to their holy superior, who being full of 
confidence in God, bid them nevertheless prepare the 
altar for the celebrating mass on Easter-day ; when 
behold, about sun-set Providence sent a man to their 
cavern with two mules laden with bread and other 
provisions in such quantity as abundantly sufficed them 
until Whitsuntide. At another time, when they were 
reduced to the same extremity, Providence sent them 
i supply in a manner still more remarkable, which 
happened thus : As a man was leading his horse 
with a load of provisions to some other place, when 
&e came into the neighborhood of the cavern whew 


the servants of God dwelt, he could not, with all his 
might, force his horse to go forward ; so that conceiv 
ing there rtust be something supernatural in the case, 
he gave him liberty of *he bridle to go which way ho 
pleased. The horse being then left to himself, imme 
diately, as if he were guided by an invisible hand, 
went straight up to the cavern, where the master per 
ceiving the distress of this holy community, relieved 
them very plentifully, and glorified God for having 
thus wonderfully made him the instrument of his di 
vine goodness, in supplying his servants with food. 

But the number of the disciples of the Saint, 
amongst whom were persons considerable for their 
worldly birth and fortune, daily increasing, and his 
cavern beina^ too small to contain them, they with dif 
ficulty prevailed upon "him to consent to the building 
a spacious monastery and a church, close by, in the 
very place appointed to him by heaven, by the re 
markable circumstance of the coals in his censor catch 
ing fire of themselves. Here he received all that 
came to him ; and as their number became very con 
siderable, he was afterwards obliged to add several 
other buildings, as well for the relief of the spiritual as 
the corporal necessities of the multitude that resorted 
to him. In no place was hospitality exercised with 
greater affection, or with more cheerfulness and joy 
than in this monastery ; for amongst all the virtues of 
the Saint, his tender compassion and charity for his 


neighbors, and diligence in relieving all their necessi 
ties, seemed to claim the first place. So great was his 
solicitude for the sick and distressed, that he even built 
several hospitals and infirmaries about his monastery 
for their accommodation ; of which extensive charity 
of his servant, God was pleased to testify his approba 
tion more than once in a miraculous manner. At the 
time of a great famine, when an incredible multitude 
of people flocked to the monastery upon a Palm-Sun 
day, and the religious not having wherewith to feed 
so great a crowd, would have kept the gates shut, the 
Saint, trusting in God, bid them open the gates and 
give them all to eat. And though the number was 
so great as to fill every part of the house, yet by a 
miracle not unlike that wrought by our Lord in feed 
ing the five thousand in the desert, they all eat and 
were filled ; and there still remained more bread than 
they had at first. The like miracle happened also 
another time, upon the feast of the Annunciation of 
the Blessed Virgin. 

As to the disciples of our Saint, the number who 
put themselves under his conduct was so great, that, 
according to our author, during the time of his supe 
riority, he buried with his own hands no less than six 
hundred and ninety-three religious men, whom he had 
trained up in the way of sanctity ; and that his suc 
cessor, St. Sophronius, did as much for four hundred 
more, who both in life and death followed the same 


happy course. lie also adds, that many illustrious 
bishops and abbots were taken out of this monastery ; 
that many others who had been here brought up un 
der our Saint, betook themselves afterwards to an an- 
choretical life, in which they became eminent for holi 
ness ; that several who had followed the profession 
of arms quitted the service of Caesar to enrol them 
selves amongst the soldiers of Jesus Christ, and to 
learn his -heavenly discipline of Theodosius ; that 
many who enjoyed posts of honor in the world, as 
well as several who were renowned for their learning, 
came also to our Saint, to take up, under his direction, 
the sweet yoke of Christian simplicity and humility, 
and become his scholars in the study of the science of 
the saints. His conduct towards all who were under 
his care was ever regulated by so consummate a pru 
dence as to accommodate his directions and prescrip 
tions to the different exigencies and dispositions, as 
well as to the strength of his disciples. Whenever 
any of them were guilty of a fault, instead of penances, 
he only used words of admonition, correction, and ex 
hortation, which were animated with such unction as 
made them penetrate into the very midst of their souls. 
In these corrections he had the art of associating meek 
ness and affability with a just severity, in so engaging 
a manner as to make himself at once be both feared 
and loved. The lessons of all virtues which he c^ave 
to others, were enforced by his own practice. His 


conversation was always extremely edifying and in 
structive, and his spirit ever attentive to God. Wheth 
er alone or in company, or in whatsoever manner he 
was employed, his temper was ever calm and e-ver,, 
always the same. His chief delight consisted in read 
ing the holy Scriptures, which he made the subject of 
his perpetual meditation both day and night, even to 
the day of his death. Although our Saint had not 
been educated to any degree in secular learning, nor 
ever studied the rules of human eloquence, yet in the 
discourses which he delivered to his disciples, he far 
excelled the greatest orators in the arts of moving and 
exciting the affections, and inflaming the heart ; be 
cause his words did not proceed from human wisdom, 
but from divine grace and the spirit of God. He was 
always so great an admirer and imitator of St. Basil, 
that in his words and with his spirit he would often 
address himself to his monks to the following effect : 
" I beseech you, my children, by the charity of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, who delivered himself up to death 
for our sins, let us, once for all be quite in earnest, as 
leriously to set about the business of saving our souls. 
Let us conceive a lively sorrow for having passed our 
time hitherto so unprofitably ; let us now at least be 
gin to fight manfully in the service of God and of his 
Son Jesus Christ, that we may be made partakers one 
day in their glory. Let us shake off this sluggishness 
and lassitude, which makes us still love to put off from 


day to day the laboring in good earnest to advance in 
virtue ; for if by suffering ourselves to be deceived by 
ihe enemy, we be found void of good works here, we 
can have no pretension hereafter to the joys of heaven, 
but shall hereafter lament in vain for having let slip 
the time and means of working out our salvation, 
when it shall not be in our power to recover them. 
The nature of this life, and of that which is to come, 
are quite opposite ; the one is a time of penance, and 
the other of reward ; the one a time of labor, the 
other of repose ; the one a time of suffering, and the 
other of consolation. At present God is infinitely 
good to those who turn from their evil ways, and are 
converted to him ; but then he shall be a just and h* 
exorable judge, who will call us to a strict account fo 
all our thoughts, words, and actions. Now he is pa 
tient, but then he shall be terrible. How long then 
shall we remain deaf to the voice of Jesus Christ, who 
invites us to the possession of an eternal inheritance ? 
Shall we never awake out of this long and profound 
sleep ? Shall we not, now at least, renounce our ill- 
spent life, to embrace evangelical perfection ? Ah ! 
tvhy do we not tremble at the thoughts of that dread 
ful day of the Lord, when he shall receive those whose 
good works shall entitle them to a place at his right 
hand, into his kingdom ; and shall condemn thoss 
wjio, being void of good works, shall be placed at his 
left, to eternal fire ? We say indeed that we desire ta 


go to heaven ; but do we labor in earnest ; do we pur 
sue the means of acquiring and securing to ourselves 
that eternal kingdom ? It we neglect to put in prac 
tice what our Lord has commanded, it is in vain that 
we flatter ourselves with the expectation of receiving 
from him that glorious recompense wherewith he will 
reward those only who shall persevere to the end in 
fighting courageously against sin." 

So far the Saint in the words of St. Brasil. 

St. Theodosius was also inflamed with an extraor 
dinary zoal for maintaining the Catholic faith against 
all condemned heresies ; of which he gave signal 
proofs during the reign of the emperor Anastasius, 
who was a great abettor of tho Eutychian heresy, con 
demned by the general council of Chalcedon. This 
prince, in hopes of drawing our Saint over to favor his 
impious tenets, sent him a very considerable sum of 
money by the way of an alms, as he pretended, for the 
relief of the poor, and the comfort of his religious in 
their sicknesses. The Saint thought it not prudent to 
offend the emperor, by refusing his charity, though he 
suspected that an 511 design lay concealed under this 
specious pretence. Not long after Anastasius sent to 
desire of him a confession of his faith, agreeable to 
the Eutychian heresy. Theodosius, instead of coming 
into his measures, declared himself ready to suffer a 
thousand deaths, rather than betray his conscience, or 
consent to heresy. The emperor, though chagrined 


and disappointed, dissembled his resentment, and pro 
ceeded at that time no farther: but not long after 
be furiously attacked the Catholic faith, and raised a 
violent persecution against its professors. In this dis 
tressed state of the church, when the orthodox pastors 
were either banished from their churches, or intimi 
dated into a criminal silence, which is always advan 
tageous to error, when the heretics triumphed, and 
a great part of the people either joined with them, or 
were in doubt which side to take, the Saint seeing the 
dreadful danger to which the sheep of Christ lay ex 
posed in the midst of these wolves, fearless of the raire 

I O 

of the emperor, or of the violence of his officers and 
ministers, went boldly into the great church of Jeru 
salem, at the time of the divine service, and going up 
to the tribune from whence the holy Scriptures used 
to be read to the people, pronounced a loud anathema 
against all who did not receive and revere, like the 
four Gospels, the four general councils of Nice, 
Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, in which 
the Incarnation of the Son of God, had been defined 
and declared against the Arians, Macedonians, Nesto- 
fians, and Eutychians. This courageous profession of 
h s faith in so public and solemn a mariner, made a 
wonderful impression on the minds of the people in 
favor of the Catholic religion, and struck all who heard 
him with such astonishment, that none of his adver 
saries, as he passed through the crowd to go out of 



the church, durst so much as open their mouths to 
Fpeak one word to him, much less presume to stop 
him. After this he was seized with a long and pain 
ful illness, which he bore with extraordinary patience 
and fortitude ; until it pleased his Divine Master to 
call him to the enjoyment of that reward which he 
has prepared for all who labor and suffer for his sake. 
Theodoret, in his Philotheus, has given us the acts 
of another saint, named also Theodosius, a native of 
Antioch, who led a life of wonderful austerity and 
sanctity in a mountain of Cilicia, ever praying and 
singing psalms, without ceasing to labor with his 
hands, and training up many disciples in the same ex 
ercises. In order to accommodate the monastery he 
had built for them, he miraculously caused a neve*- 
failing stream of water to flow from the hard rock on 
which it was erected. So great and general was th> 
esteem in which he was held, even amongst the bar 
barians and infidels, on account of his sanctity and 
miracles, that such as were in danger at sea, though 
at ever so great a distance off from his place of resi 
dence, who called upon the God of Theodosius, sav 
the tempest immediately cease by the invocation of 
his name. He flovrished in the fourth century. 

ST. SABAS. 303 


From his Life "by Cyrillus, a faithfu.. cotempcrary 


SABAS, or Sabbas, was born at Mutalascus, a smaJl 
town in the district of Cesarea, in Cappadocia, anno 
437. His father, who was an officer in the army, 
being obliged to go to Alexandria, in Egypt, left his 
son, who was then but five years old, together with 
his estate, in the care of an uncle, whose name was 
Hermias. But the evil treatment Sabas met with 
from his aunt, the wife of Hermias, obliged him to 
leave them, and go to another uncle, named Gregory 
This produced a violent contest between the two 
orothers which should have the care of his person 
and of his estate, which inspired in the nephew, 
young as he then was, so great a disgust for the 
world, that resolving to quit it, he retired to a monas 
tery called Flavian, at about three miles distance from 
Mutalascus, where the abbot received him, though as 
yet but a child, amongst his religious, and took care 
to have him well instructed in the knowledge of the 
boly Scriptures, and of all things necessary to acquit 
himself worthily of so holy a profession. Here, as 
he was working in the garden one day, he obser.ed 
an apple tree laden with fruit, which appeared so \ ..rf 

304 ST. SARAS. 

fair and tempting*, that he plucked off one of them with 
a design to eat it ; but immediately suspecting it to be a 
snare of the old serpent, who had heretofore driven our 
first parents out of paradise, by tempting them to eat 
of the forbidden fruit, and that he throws out no baits 
so efficacious to ensnare youth as that of pleasure ; 
after reproaching himself with the fault he had com 
mitted, he flung down the apple, trod it under foot, 
and made a resolution never to eat of that kind of 
fruit as long as he lived. From that day forward he 
led a life of the most extraordinary abstinence with 
respect to eating and drinking. As to sleep, he slept 
no longer than the necessity of nature absolutely re 
quired ; and excepting the time whilst his hands were 
lifted up to God in prayer, they were perpetually em 
ployed in some manual labor, for he dreaded nothing 
more than idleness, on account of the opportunity it 
affords the enemy to creep insensibly into the soul. By 
this continual application of all his faculties to attain 
to perfection, he made such a progress in the way of 
virtue, that not one of the religious, who were to the 
number of seventy in this community, equalled him 
in obedience and humility, or in any of the exercises 
of an evangelical life. 

His uncles, being at length reconciled together, both 
joined in soliciting him to come out of the monastery, 
and to settle himself h the world in a married life. 
But he resisted all their solicitations, and with the leave 

ST. SABAS. 305 

of his superior, being now eighteen years old, went 
away to Jerusalem, in order to reverence the holy 
places, and then to visit the Saints that inhabited the 
neighboring deserts, that he might acquire still greater 
proficiency in the true science of the saints. Here 
after a short stay in the monastery of St. Pasarion, 
lie went and flung himself at the feet of the great 
St. Euthymius, desiring to serve God under his holy 
discipline. Euthymius told him he was as yet too 
young for the solitary life of the laura, but sent him 
to the neighboring monastery of his friend Theoctis- 
tus, with a particular recommendation of him to the 
abbot, as one who was likely to become a most illus 
trious saint. In this monastery the young Sabas con 
secrated himself entirely to divine love. He spent 
the day in manual labors, and the night in fervent 
prayer, and was ever ready, young and strong as he 
was, to comfort and assist the brethren in their res 
pective offices. He brought in water and wood for 
the use of the community : regardless of his own 
health, he took particular care of the sick, and was ever 
the first and last at the divine office, which he always 
recited with a most edifying devotion: in a word, 
the religious were so charmed with his obedience and 
humility, that they could not, without admiration, be 
hold so great perfection in one of such tender years. 
It happened about this time that one of the monks 
obtained leave of the abbot to go to Alexandria, ia 

306 ST. SABAS. 

order to dispose of an inheritance that fell to him by 
the death of his parents. Sabas, being ordered to ac 
company him in this journey, unexpectedly met with 
his own father and mother, who lived at Alexandria, 
Having rejoiced excessively to see him, they endeavor 
ed, by the most pressing soliciation, to prevail on him 
to stay with them ; but Sabas, having set his hand to 
the plough, absolutely refused to look back, remem-. 
bering what our Lord had said, that such as love 
father or mother more than him, are not worthy of 
him. "If they, said he, who, after enrolling them 
selves in the service of an earthly king run away from 
their colors, are severely punished for their desertion, 
what punishment then should not I deserve, if after 
having engaged myself in the service of the King of 
heaven, I should abandon so holy a warfare ? Where 
fore cease, I beseech you, to persuade me to quit this 
way of life, which I mid so advantageous to my soul, 
or else you will oblige me to consider you no longer 
as my parents and friends, but as strangers and ene 
mies." They told him that if he would not stay with 
them, he would at least accept of a considerable sum 
of money, which they would have given him. But 
this he also refused, and it was with much difficulty 
that they prevailed upon him to receive three pieces 
of silver ; which as soon as he returned to the monas 
tery he immediately gave to the abbot, fearing noth 
ing more than the demon of the love of money. 

ST. SABAS. 307 

After the death of the holy abbot Theoctistus, with 
the approbation of St. Euthymius, he betook himself 
to a cavern belonging to th3 monastery, where he 
passed five days of the week in perfect solitude ; fast 
ing, working, and praying the whole time. On the 
Saturday and Sunday he performed his devotions in 
the monastery, and then returning to his cavern, he 
carried with him the materials of which he made 
every week to the number of fifty baskets. And now 
St. Euthymius, who used to call him the young old 
man, by reason of his extraordinary wisdom, desired 
to have him nearer himself, and therefore took him 
along with him, when he entered upon his yearly re 
treat, on the 14th January, into the desert of Ruban, 
where he was accustomed to pass the holy time of 
Lent. After they had walked for a long time together 
over the barren sands of this vast wilderness, where 
nothing green could grow, nor any water l>e found, 
Sabas was so much exhausted with weariness and 
thirst, that he could hold out no longer, but was 
obliged to lay himself upon the ground like one half 
dead. Euthymius pitying his distress, prostrated him 
self in the presence of God, and cried out from the 
bottom of his heart : " Thou seest, O my God, the 
extremity to which this thy young soldier, who fights 
under thy standard, is now reduced, be pleased there 
fore to relieve and assist him by causing water to issue 
forth out of this dry and shirsty land." Having 

508 ST. SABAS. 

finished this prayer, and thrust his staff three times 
into the ground, behold there presently issued forth a 
spring of clear and excellent water, from the drinking 
whereof Sabas not only quenched his thirst, but found 
in himself such vigor, strength, and comfort, as en 
abled him cheerfully to support all that ho had after 
wards to suffer in the desert. 

After the death of St. Euthyrnius, Sabas retired into 
the same wilderness near the river Jordan, which St. 
Gerasimus at that time illustrated with the rays of his 
sanctity. Here, according to custom, passing the 
night on a solitary mountain in prayer, he was direct 
ed by a heavenly vision to go and take up his abode 
in a cavern to the east of the torrent of Siloe, with a 
promise that God, who takes care of the meanest of 
his creatures, would not fail to provide for him. Hav 
ing immediately obeyed this ordinance of heaven, he 
went down from the mountain, and was led, as it 
were, by the hand to the cavern, which lay on the side 
of a steep hill, of very difficult access. Here he lived 
for some time, without any other food for his sub 
sistence but the herbs that grew wild about his cave, 
and being obliged to go six or seven miles for water, 
which, with the utmost difficulty he carried up to his 
lodging by means of a rope, which he made to han<r 
down for that purpose from his cavern to the foot of 
the hill. But divine providence at length conducted 
Borne of the country people to the place, who ascend- 

ST. SABAS. 309 

Ing by the help of the rope to the cavern, and admir 
ing the sanctity of the servant of God, from that time 
forward furnished him with the little provisions he 
stood in need of. 

After he had dwelt about rive years in this solitary 
cavern, God inspired him with a desire of exercising 
his charity towards his neighbors, by receiving, in 
structing, and directing as many as desired to quit the 
tvorld, and to put themselves under his guidance in 
the ways of God and religious perfection. To these 
he gave excellent lessons of a spiritual life, and ap 
pointed them separated spots of ground for building 
their cells after the manner of a laura, which, in pro 
cess of time, became the most considerable of any in 
all Palestine. He built them also a chapel, wherein, 
as often as any priest came into the wilderness, he 
procured that the divine mysteries should be celebrat 
ed ; for as to his own part, his humility made him de 
cline the priestly dignity, of which he deemed himself 
altogether unworthy. The first disciples of the Saint 
were men of the most eminent virtue, so full of the 
Spirit of God, that they lived in the wilderness like 
angels in human bodies, continually employed in sing 
ing the praises of their Maker. Their number was 
bout three score and ten, amongst whom were several 
who afterwards became founders and superiors of other 
religious communities. Having at the beginning la 
bored under great inconveniences, especially for want 

510 ST. SABA*. 

of water, which they were forced to fetch, as was ob 
served before, from a spring that was seven miles dis 
tant, the Saint one night in his devotions, earnestly 
besought the Lord to remedy this evil, by affording 
his servants a source of water nearer home ; when be 
hold at the conclusion of his prayer he heard a noise, 
and looking towards the place, he perceived by the 
moonlight a wild ass making a hole in the ground 
with his foot, and then bowing down his head, as if it 
were to drink. The man of God conceiving by this 
signal that his prayer was heard, went to the place, 
and opening thr hole a little wider, a stream of living 
water issued for h, which from that time never ceased 
to flow through the midst of the laura, in such a man 
ner, as neither to be swelled in winter nor to be di 
minished in summer, though almost all the people of 
the country reorted thither for water. 

And no\v the number of those who came to place 
themselves under his direction increased exceedingly ; 
but, alas ! they were not all led by the same spirit 
as their predecessor ; on the contrary, some of them 
formed a faction against the holy abbot, and went to 
Salustius, who upon the death of Martyrius was lately 
made patriarch of Jerusalem, to desire he would give 
th3in anothe- superior : for as Sabas was clownish and 
simple, they wanted one who was a priest. The new 
patriarch, who was no stranger to the merit of the 
Baint, instead of regarding his accusers, sent for him 

ST. SAB A3. 811 

and ordained him priest in their presence, and con 
firmed him in liis charge of abbot and superior ; and 
going with him to the laura consecrated for him a 
church, and erected an altar in a spacious subterrane 
ous den, which had been shown to the man of God 
hy a pillar of fire which reached from heaven to earth. 
Many others after this resorted to the Saint to put 
themselves under his discipline, amongst whom ^ere 
several excellent men of the Armenian nation, to 
whom the man of God made over his own first habi 
tation with the neighboring oratory, in which he di 
rected them to sing the praises of God in their native 
language. About this time also the father of the 
Saint having died at Alexandria, his mother Sophia 
came to visit him, and having by his counsel entirely 
renounced the world, passed the short time that re 
mained of her life in preparing her soul, by spiritual 
exercises, for a better, and made a most happy end 
under his directions. The Saint consecrated a con 
siderable sum of money which she bequeathed him, to 
the service of God, by building two hospitals ; the 
one for the entertainment of passengers, the other for 
the religious of other communities who came to visit 
his laura. 

Our Saint was united in a most holy bond of friend 
ship with the great St. Theodosius, and always joined 
nim in promoting the cause of their common Lord, as 
well in defending the purity of the catholic faith 

ST. 8 ABAS. 

against all the attacks of heresy, as in propagating re 
ligious discipline. Their union was so remarkable, 
that the people of Jerusalem called them the two 
apostles ; and the patriarch Salustius, at the desire of 
the religious of his district, put under their care all the 
monasteries around Jerusalem, in such a manner that 
Theodosius had the charge of all that lived in convents, 
from whence he was named the Cenobiarch, and 
Sabas the charge of all the anchorets and solitaries. 
But Euthymius was the Saint whose life St. Sabas 
particularly chose for the model of his own ; after his 
example he withdrew himself every year into the most 
remote part of the wilderness, and there passed the 
whole time of Lent, till Palm-Sunday, in perfect soli 
tude, fasting, and prayer. In one of these excursions 
he was conducted by divine providence to a steep 
mountain, on the top of which he found a cavern, and 
in this cavern a holy anchoret who had lived there for 
eight and thirty years upon nothing but wild herbs, 
without either seeing or being seen during all that 
time by any one. The edification he received by the 
heavenly conversation of this man of God brought 
Sabas thither again another year to receive his bene 
diction, but he found him dead in the posture of one 
at his prayers, and interred him in his cavern. 

In another of these excursions he came to a hill 
called Castel, lying at a great distance from all com 
munication with men. This place he pitched upon to 

BT. SABAS. 313 

erect a monastery, and after the Easter holidays he led 
thither a colony of his disciples, who found in the 
neighborhood an old desolate building, which they 
converted into a church, and afterwards built them 
selves cells around it. As the first inhabitants of this 
holy solitude were men of eminent virtue, wholly dis 
engaged from all earthly cares and affections, our Lord 
was pleased in the beginning to provide for their sub 
sistence in a wonderful manner, by charging Marcian, 
the superior of the monasteries of Bethlehem, in a 
vision, to furnish them with all necessaries, which he 
carefully executed. 

In the mean time the malcontents of whom we 
Bpoke before were gathering strength, by seducing se 
veral others over to their faction, so that no less than 
forty of the religious entered into a conspiracy against 
the holy abbot, resolving to use all means in their 
power to get rid of him. The Saint being apprised 
of their design chose to withdraw himself quietly from 
them, rather than proceed to any measures against 
them which might be inconsistent with that meekness, 
patience, and humility, which constitute the character 
of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Wherefore retiring into 
a desert, not far from the city of Scythopolis, he took 
up his abode in a cavern near the river of Gadar. Al 
though this cavern happened to be a lion s den, yet 
the beast finding the Saint there, not only refrained 
from offering him any violence, but quietly yielded up 

814 ST. 8ABA8. 

to him the possession of his dwelling-place. Here the 
reputation of his sanctity, which could no where lie 
long concealed, brought many to visit him from the 
neighboring cities of Scythopolis and Gadara ; amongst 
whom was a young gentleman named Basil, who by 
an inspiration of heaven had entirely renounced the 
world and came to dwell with Sabas in his cavern. 
Some thieves who had imagined Basil to be rich, and 
that he had carried off his money with him, came one 
night in hopes of booty to visit the cavern ; but find 
ing nothing, not even the necessaries of life, they were 
struck with astonishment, and retired, not without 
deep remorse for the evil they had proposed to com 
mit, and a dread of meeting with some rigorous pun 
ishment from the justice of God. This apprehension 
was greatly increased, when a little after they had left 
the cavern they saw some lions approaching, whose 
terrible looks seemed to threaten them with immediate 
death and destruction. In this extremity they be 
thought themselves of the sanctity of Sabas, and com 
manded the lions in the name, and by virtue of the 
prayers of that venerable servant of God, to be gone ; 
^hen behold they had no sooner pronounced the name 
of Sabas, but these furious beasts turned their backs 
upon them and ran away. This miracle not only 
wrcught the total conversion of the thieves, but being 
rumored abroad, brought such multitudes to visit th* 
Saint as determined him, after having recommended 

ST SAB AS. 315 

his disciples to God and leaving to them the cell he 
had lately built, to seek some other solitude, where he 
might attend to his God with less distraction. 

After some time he returned again to his laura, 
where to his excessive grief he found no amendment 
in the disposition of the malcontents, since whatsoever 
he could either say or do to bring them to a righ 
sense of their duty made them rather worse than bet 
ter. Upon this he retired towards Nicopolis, and fixed 
his abode for some time under a tree in an open field, 
till the master of the field, admiring his sanctity, built 
him a cell, which in a short time was converted into a 
monastery. In the mean time the malcontents applied 
to Elias the patriarch of Jerusalem for another supe 
rior, pretending that Sabas was devoured by a lion. 
The patriarch gave no credit to the fable ; and not 
long after Sabas himself coming to Jerusalem to cele 
brate the feast of the dedication of the Church, he 
obliged him to return to his laura, with an order to 
the rebels either to submit to him or depart. They 
chose the latter, and retired towards the torrent of 
Theon, and repaired some old cells which they found 
there, and called this place the new laura. But aa 
ithey were destitute of all things, and no one was will 
ing to assist them, the Saint in his great charity, not 
only labored to procure them all necessary provisions, 
but went himself in person to carry them to them ; 
oor did he cease to ply them with benefits, both for 

816 ST. 8 ABAS. 

their temporal and spiritual well-being, till overcoming 
evil with good, he at length brought them over to dis 
positions more suitable to the sanctity of their profes 
sion, and established them in regular discipline under 
a holy superior whom he appointed for them. 

It would be endless to descend to all the particu 
lars of the great things which St. Sabas did, during 
the many years that remained of his life, for the glory 
of God, for the sanctification of souls, and the 
propagation of the kingdom of Christ, the spirit of 
prophecy which he manifested on many occasions, 
the great miracles God wrought by him, his labors 
for the public good of the Church, and maintaining 
the purity of faith, as well during the reign of Anas- 
tasius, the Eutychian, as during that of his successors 
Justin and Justinian, since these would suffice to fill 
a volume, they are therefore omitted as exceeding the 
bounds of our intended brevity. Wherefore we shall 
only add, that as he always lived the life of a Saint, so 
he died the death of a Saint, on the fifth of Decem 
ber, (on which day he is honored by the church) anno 
532, at the age of 94; and that after his death many 
miracles were wro ight through his intercession. 



From his disciple Cyrillus, the same vrho -wrote the 
Lives of S3. Euthymius and Sabaa. 

JOHN, surnamecl Sttentiarius, or the Silent, from 
his great affection to silence, was born in the lesser 
Armenia, of illustrious and wealthy parents, anno 453, 
who being themselves good Christians, gave him a 
Christian education. At the age of eighteen he aban 
doned the world, and employed that part of the es 
tate which fell to him by the death of his father and 
mother, in building a church in honor of the blessed 
Virgin, together with a monastery into which he re 
tired with ten other persons, who like himself were 
desirous to think of nothing else but the salvation of 
their souls. Here he led a life of the most perfect 
purity of soul and body, joined with a most profound 
humility. The heavenly prudence with which he con 
ducted the religious committed to his charge recom 
mended him first to the priestly character, and short 
ly after, upon the death of the bishop of Colonia, de 
termined the metropolitan, the archbishop of Sebaste, 
to consecrate no other than him to fill up this vacancy. 
In order thereto he sent for John, as if it were upon 
some other business, and when he came, in spite ot 
his remonstrances to the contrary, he ordained him 


bishop. Being then about thirty-eight years of 
age, he for ten years discharged himself in a most 
edifying manner, of all the duties of the episcopal 
ministry, continuing to practise the same religious 
exercises as he had been accustomed to in his mon 

Towards the latter end of this time, finding his 
church and his clergy grievously oppressed by his 
brother-in-law, the governor of the province, and that 
all his remonstrances only served to make him still 
worse, he took a journey to Constantinople, to seek a 
remedy for these evils. Here having, with the assist 
ance of the patriarch Euphymius, settled the affairs of 
his diocese in the best manner he could, and following a 
divine inspiration, having resolved totally to withdraw 
himself from, the world, without acquainting any one 
with his design, he privately got on board a ship, and 
went to Jerusalem, where he took up his lodgings in 
an hospital, to which was annexed a chapel of St. 
George the Martyr ; and during the time he remained 
there, continued to pray with many tears, that God 
would direct him to a proper place where he might 
attend to nothing else but true working out his own 
salvation. Whilst he was praying one night to this 
effect, having lifted up his eyes to heaven, he perceiv 
ed a lis^ht in form of a cross coming towards him, and 
hear.i a \oice that said to him: "If thou desirest to 
save thy soul, follow this light." He immediately 


obeyed, anil following this heavenly light, he was con 
ducted to the great laura of St. Sabas, were he found 
one hundred and fifty solitaries, living in extreme 
want of all temporal things, but rich in the treasures 
>f divine grace. 

The holy abbot having received this new comer 
without knowing who he was, recommended him to 
the procurator of the community, who employed him 
for some time in various offices for the service of the 
other religious, such as fetching them water, pre 
paring their victuals, carrying stones for the build 
ing which they had at that time in hand, dressing 
and carrying the workmen their dinners, at the dis 
tance of about a mile from his lodgings, entertain 
ing such strangers as came, and, in a word, doing 
all Cat any of the monks desired, with such humility, 
readiness, and cheerfulness as made him both admired 
and loved by them all. After this St. Sabas appoint 
ed him a little cell, in which for the space of three 
years, he lived in silence, taking no manner of nour 
ishment during five days of the week, and only com 
ing out to the church on Saturdays and Sundays, 
where he was always the first and the last, and there 
sung the psalms of the divine office with such respect 
ful awe, modest gravity, and fer.yent piety, as edified 
all who saw him ; and assisted also at the unbloody 
sacrifice and sacrament of the altar, with such deep 
compunction and devotion, that he could not refrain 


from shedding floods of tears during the time of the 
celebrating those divine mysteries. 

After these three years of silence, St. Sabas ap 
pointed him to the office of procurator of the laura, 
to the great advantage of the whole community, God 
giving his blessing to his servant, and assisting him 
in all things. The time of exercising this office being 
expired, and the holy abbot seeing him so accomplish 
ed in all virtue, took him to Jerusalem, and desired 
the patriarch St. Elias, the successor of Salustius, and 
formerly disciple of St Euthymius, to impose his 
hands upon him, and to ordain him priest. The ser 
vant of God, on this occasion, desired he might be 
first allowed to speak to the patriarch in private ; and 
having obtained of him a promise of secrecy, told 
him, that he had been a bishop, but that the multi 
tude of his sins had determined him to quit his see, 
and to fly into the desert in order to bewail his offences 
and obtain the divine mercy ; and in the mean time, 
as long as he was strong and robust to labor, all he 
could to assist and comfort those good religious to 
whom God had associated him. The patriarch was 
astonished at the hearing of this, and calling for St. 
Sabas, said to him : " This monk has discovered to 
me in private some particulars, which will not allow 
me to ordain him priest. Take him therefore back 
with you, and let him live in silence, and suffer no one 
k disturb him." St. Sabas being thus not only dis- 


appoin :ed, but also very much concerned, through the 
apprehension lest some great evil might have been 
discovered by the patriarch which had prevented him 
from admitting his disciple to holy orders, betook him 
self to his prayers, and ceased not to importune our 
Lord to let him know whether John was indeed, as 
he had thought, a vessel of sanctification, and worthy 
of the priestly function or not. At length an angel, 
after he had spent the whole night in prayer appear 
ing to him, told him, that John was indeed a vessel 
of election, but being already a bishop could not be 
ordained priest. St. Sabas, who was often favored 
with such visions, went immediately to St. John s cell, 
and embracing him, said. "I find, father, that you 
have hidden from me the grace you have received 
from God, but he has been pleased to reveal it to me." 
"You mortify me exceedingly, said John, by speaking 
to me thus. I was in hopes this secret would not 
have been known to any one, but now I perceive T 
must quit this country." Sabas desired him to be at 
rest, and made him a solemn promise that he would 
keep his episcopal character a secret. Upon which he 
was content to continue with him ; yet so as to remain 
close in his cell, where he spent four years more in 
perfect solitude and silence. When the insolence of 
the monks drove St. Sabas away from the lawa, John 
would remain there no longer, nor hold any commu 
nication with the rebels, but retired to the desert of 

322 ST. JOHN a HE SH-ENT. 

Ruban, where he found a cavern in which he passed 
nine years, conversing with God alone, and living 
upon what wild herbs or roots he could find in the 

Whilst he dwelt in this solitude one of the religious 
came to visit him, and staid a short time with him ; 
but being quickly wearied with so austere a kind of 
life, and such close retirement, he proposed that they 
should return together to the laura, in order to cele 
brate the approaching feast of Easter with the brethren, 
and not to starve in that barren desert. The Saint, 
who could not think of returning to the laura as long 
as Sabas was absent from thence, exhorted the brother 
to a confidence in divine providence, which, as it had 
heretofore fed six hundred thousand men for the space 
of forty years in the wilderness, could with as much 
ease abundantly provide for them both. But this ex 
hortation having made no impression on the mind of 
his companion, he presently took his leave of him and 
departed. He was scarcely gone when an unknown 
pei-son came to the cavern of the Saint, driving an ass 
laden with all sorts of provisions, which he bestowed 
upon the servant of God ; whose faith his divine Ma 
jesty was pleased to reward in this wonderful manner : 
whilst the other, instead of going back to the laura, 
lost his way in the wilderness ; but after wandering 
about for the space of three days, being now quite ex 
hausted and famished, returned to the Saint, and see- 


Kg all the goo I things that God had sent him, ac 
knowledged his own error, and asked pardon for it. 

Whilst St. John dwelt in this desert, the Saracens 
made an inroad upon the borders of the empire on the 
side of Palestine, and committed great outrages. On 
this occasion the Saint was pressed by the monks of 
the laura to come and take shelter amongst them, 
where he would be more remote from the danger of 
the enemy s parties, and protected by the Roman sol 
diers ; but he, who had found by experience how sweet 
it was to converse alone with his God, chose rather to 
remain where he was putting his whole trust in him, 
who has given his angels charge over his servants to 
guard them in all their ways ; and his divine goodness 
was pleased to show his approbation of this entire con 
fidence which his servant placed in him, by sending 
him as our author learnt from the Saint s own mouth, 
a great lion to be his visible guardian. At the first 
sight of the beast, the man of God was struck with 
some fear, but he quickly recovered himself, and found 
that the creature, instead of meaning him harm, care 
fully attended him by day and night, and suffered no 
enemy to approach near his cavern. 

At the expiration of the nine years, St. Sabas visited 
him, and brought him back to the laura, where he 
Hved for many years shut up in his cell, no one, except 
the holy abbot, knowing all the while of his beino- a 
bishop, till God was pleased it should be made known 


to the whole community, by the means of Atherius, 
an Asiatic prelate, who having made a pilgrimage of 
devotion to Jerusalem, was directed from heaven to go 
and visit our Saint in the laura of St. Sabas, and there 
acquainted the religious with the treasure they pos 
sessed, as well as with all the particulars of this former 
course of life. When John was now seventy years of 
age, it pleased God to take St. Sabas to himself. Our 
Saint was sensibly touched with the loss of his holy 
father, and the more because, being shut up in his 
cell, he had not been present at his death. But be 
hold St. Sabas appeared to him in a dream, desiring 
that he would not be afflicted at his death ; for that 
though they were now separated in body, they were 
still united in spirit. John desired he would pray to 
God for him, that he would be pleased to take him 
also out of this miserable world ; but Sabas told him 
that could not be as yet, because his longer stay in the 
world was necessary to support the brethren under the 
grievous conflicts and temptations to which they were 
like to be exposed from the enemies of the faith. 

Twenty years afterwards, when the saint was now 
fourscore and ten years old, my author, who had been 
received whilst a child by St. Sabas into the number 
of his disciples, was directed by his pious mother to 
St. John, in order to be guided in all things by his 
counsels for the welfare of his soul. The Saint told 
him, if he desired to save his soul, he would advise 


him to enter into the monastery of St. Euthymius. 
But being then young and giddy, he neglected the 
advice, and chose rather to go towards the Jordan, to 
dwell in some of the religious houses in that part o\ 
the country. Having fixed on the latira called the 
Reedfield, he was there taken violently ill, being un 
accustomed to the yoke of religious discipline, and suf 
fered at the same time a great anguish of mind, as 
well as bodily pain, when behold the Saint appeared 
to him in a dream, saying : " Behold, how thou art 
now chastised, because thou wouldst not be advised 
by me. But rise up, and go to Jericho, and there 
thou shalt find in the hospital of the abbot Euthymius, 
u very ancient religious man, follow him into the 
monastery into which he shall conduct thee, and there 
thou shalt find the salvation of thy soul." Upon this 
he awoke, and found himself instantly cured; and 
presently after getting up, receiving the blessed, sacra 
ment, and taking some nourishment, he walked the 
same day to Jericho^ From hence he went to the 
monastery of St. Euthymius, and from that time al- 
ways applied to our Saint for his spiritual direction. 

This afforded him an opportunity of being an eye 
witness of the wonders which God wrought by our 
Saint. As when in his presence one, whose name 
was George, brought his son who was grievously tor 
mented by an evil spirit, and left him before the win 
dow of his cell, (as no one ever came, within the door) 

326 ST. JOHN THE SIlfiNT. 

who was immediately delivered, upon the Saint s pray 
ing for him, and anointing him with the oil of the 
cross. But the miracles wrought by him for the cure 
of souls were the most remarkable. The abbot Eusta- 
tius applied one day to the Saint upon occasion of n 
most violent and obstinate temptation of blasbphemous 
thoughts, desiring him to pray for him. The servant 
of God did so ; and then turning to him he said : 
" God be praised, my son, you will never more be 
troubled with the like thoughts," as was actually the 
case : this our author learnt from Eustatius himself. 

A lady, named Basilissa, who was deaconness of the 
great church of Constantinople, having taken a journey 
to the Holy Land, in the company of a kinsman, who 
though otherwise virtuous and religious, was neverthe 
less infected with the errors of Eutyches, hearing of 
the wonderful graces bestowed upon our Saint, con 
ceived a great desire to see and speak to him. But 
being informed that no woman was allowed to come 
within the enclosure of the laura, she sent to Theodore 
his disciple, and begged of him to take her cousin 
along with him to the Saint, in hopes that by his 
blessing and prayers he might be converted and re 
claimed from his errors. Theodore took the young 
man with him, and knocked at the Saint s window, 
according to custom, which when he had opened, they 
both knelt down and craved his blessing. The man 
of God told his disciple, that as for his part he gave 


him his benediction, but that he could not do as much 
for his companion, because by schism and heresy ho 
was an alien from the Catholic Church. The younor 
man, astonished to hear him describe in this manner 
tLe state of his soul, which he could not know but by 
divine revelation, was by an evident miracle of divine 
grace, perfectly converted upon the spot, and renounc 
ing his heresy, after a competent preparation, was ad 
mitted by the Saint to the holy communion. The 
lady, overjoyed at his conversion, conceived a still 
greater desire of seeing the Saint, and of treating with 
him about the state of her soul, insomuch that she had 
formed a design of putting on man s clothes, that so 
she might have access to him ; but the Saint, know 
ing by revelation her design, sent to her to lay aside 
so useless a scheme, for that he would not be seen 
by her in that manner ; but if she would stay where 
she* was, she should see him in her sleep and then 
might put what questions she pleased to him. The 
following night, or shortly after, the Saint appeared to 
her in a dream, and said to her : " God hath sent me 
to you, you may now propose to me all that you want 
to know." She then declared to him all that she had 
in her mind, and received from him full satisfaction in 
every particular, for which she returned great thanks 
to God. All this, says our author, I can aver fo! 
truth, having heard it from her own m>uth. 

And here our author concludes his account of ou 


Saint, who was, at the time of his writing, actually 
living, doubting not, as he says, but that others would 
deliver in a more ample manner to posterity the great 
things that God had wrought by him, as well as his 
many labors and sufferings in defence cf the faith of 
the church. The Saint was at that time one hundred 
and four years old, and though weak in body, yet per 
fect in all the faculties of his soul, and by a cheerful 
countenance ever showed forth the joy of his heart, 
and the purity of his conscience. How long he lived 
afterwards, or in what year he departed to our Lord, 
we have not found ; but. his name stands recorded 
among the Saints in the Roman Martyrology on the 
thirteenth of May. 


From Daniel, Monk of Kaithu. his Cotemporary, and 
from, liis own Writings. 

JOHN, surnamed Ctimacus, from his celebrated book 
entitled Climax, or the scale or ladder of Christian and 
religious perfection, was born, as it is thought, in some 
part of Palestine, about the year 525. After an inno- 
ftcnt education at home in the exercises of Christian 
piety, joined with the study of the human sciences, 


when he had attained to the age of sixteen, he formed 
the happy resolution of quitting the world and all ter 
restrial things, in order to discover the treasure of 
evangelical perfection in th<L field of religious disci 
pline. The place he pitched upon for his retirement, 
in which he might spend the remaining days of his 
mortality, was mount Sinai, where the Lord heretofore 
gave his law to Moses, and which from the time that 
St. Antony and St. Hilarion began to propagate the 
monastic institute, had always been peopled with holy 
solitaries. Some of these lived as hermits in lonesome 
cells, others in the vast monastery on the top of the 
mountain, which was at this time one of the most cele 
brated in the church of God ; but John chose a middle 
way, declining the multitude of the convent, as expos 
ing him to more distractions, and yet not venturing, 
because he was young and unexperienced, to live quite 
by himself as an anchoret, he put himself under the 
discipline of a holy man, who dwelt in a cell on the 
side of the mountain, whose name was Marty rius, and 
lived with him for nineteen years, in the exercises of so 
humble and faithful an obedience, as that he seemed, 
from his very first entering upon this course of life, to 
have left his own will behind him : and notwithstand 
ing his great wit and learning, which is so apt to pufll 
men up, to judge of nothing by his own choice, but to 
regulate himself in all things, by a humble dependence 
on the conduct and direction of his superior, as th<a 


surest way to be conducted and directed by God him* 

After a trial of four years he made bis solemn pro 
fession, by which he eternally dedicated himself to God 
At which time a holy abbot, who was present, foretold 
that this young religious man would be one day one 
of the greatest lights of the Church of God. From 
the time of his profession, John continued still to live 
with the same simplicity and humility under the direc 
tion of Mnrtyrius, making a continual progress both in 
virtue and the knowledge of the holy Scriptures, on 
which he meditated day and night. Marty rius some 
times took him to visit the saints who dwelt in that 
neighborhood. One day he brought him to a servant 
of God whose \iame was Anastasius, who fixing bis 
eyes upon him, told Martyrius that his disciple would 
be one day abbot of Mount Sinai, which situation was 
looked upon in those days as one of the highest pro 
motions in the whole monastic order, and a dignity to 
which none were raised but such as were most emi 
nent in sanctity, no others being thought proper to bo 
the fathers and superiors of so many saints as then in 
habited that holy mountain. At another time, when 
they went together to visit John, surnamed the Saba- 
ite, because he had been a disciple of St. Sabas, this 
holy man, according to the custom of the solitaries, 
washed the feet cf his guests, beginning with the dis 
ciple, and on being asked the reason, he said he did 


Dot know who that young- man was, but he believed 
he saw in him an abbot of mount Sinai. 

At the end of nineteen years our Lord took Marty 
rius to himself, and then our Saint, by the counsel 
of George the Arsilaite, an eminent servant of God, 
undertook an anchoretical life in a cell bv himself, at 
the foot of the mountain, at the distance of five miles 
from the church, to which nevertheless he repaired on 
all Saturdays and Sundays to join the rest of the reli 
gious in the divine office, to assist at the sacred mys 
teries, and receive the blessed sacrament. In this her 
mitage he continued forty years, practising in the high 
est degree of perfection the three principal virtues of 
a solitary life, which he has so much recommended in 
his writings, viz. a total disengagement of his thoughts 
and heart from temporal things, an incessant watch 
fulness and continual prayer, which consisted, as we 
learn from his own doctrine (Grad. 27.) in having 
God always for his object, and his divine will for his 
rule in all his exercises, words, thoughts, and in every 
motion and step that he took, and in doing nothing 
but in the presence of God, with an internal fervor of 
spirit. This gift of continual prayer was accompanied 
by the gift of tears, which he frequently poured forth 
in private before our Lord, bewailing his sins with the 
deepest compunction of heart. Nor did his frequent 
application to the reading of the Scriptures and 
writings of the Saints, interrupt his prayers or 


but rather served as a fuel to that inward fire of di 
vine love, which produced both the one and the other 
Nor was the knowledge he here acquired, nor the par 
ticular lights which the spirit of God imparted to him 
for the instruction and conduct of others, in the least 
prejudicial to his humility, or make him think he was 
left upon earth for any thing else, but to bewail his 
sins in solitude, and do penance for them. 

Many persons, as well religious as seculars, came 
from time to time to consult him about the concerns 
of their souls, to whom, with great candor and sim 
plicity, he communicated the lights which God gave 
him. A solitary, whose name was Moses, not con 
tent with only coming to consult him, prevailed on 
him by the intercession of the ancients of mount 
Sinai, to receive him in quality of his disciple. This 
Moses being sent one day by the Saint to fetch earth 
from a place at some distance for the use of their lit 
tle garden, the fatigue of the work and the heat of 
the sun, obliged him, towards noonday, to go and rest 
himself on the side of a bank, under the shadow of a 
rock, or great stone, that hung over his head. Here 
laying himself down he fell fast asleep. In the mean 
time the Saint, who had been praying in his cell, hap 
pened also to fall into a slumber, in which there ap 
peared to him a venerable person, that said : " Dost 
thou sleep, John, without any concern ? get up, for 
Moses is upon the brink of danger." Having imrne- 


diately awoke upon this admonition, he betook hint 
self to his prayers, to beg deliverance for his disciple. 
But whilst he was praying for him, the divine good 
ness was pleased that Moses also should hear, as he 
thought, in his sleep, the voice of his master calling 
upon him to get up with all speed ; upon which he 
presently started up in a fright, and ran away from 
the bank, and within less than a minute the great 
stone under which he had been sleeping fell down, so 
that had he remained there but one minute longer, 
he must have been inevitably crushed to death. 

The common enemy of the good of souls behold 
ing with an envious eye the great advantage that 
many reaped from the instructions and spiritual dis 
courses which the Saint made to those who visited 
him, stirred up the jealousy of certain persons who 
pretended to be scandalized at his speaking too much, 
saying that he was a vain babbler, who only loved to 
hear himself talk. The Saint, who sought not to pro 
mote his own fame, but the glory of God ; who l^ad 
no vain opinion of his own talents, but had only yield 
ed to speak through the importunity of his brethren, 
and from an impulse of fraternal charity, far from 
justifying or excusing himself, or even being offended 
at what they said of him (believing they had only 
meant to give him a charitable admonition and frater 
nal correction), was resolved to comply therewith, and 
of consequence condemned himself to an inviolable 


silence, which he kept for a whole year, till at length 
/hose very men, overcome with his wonderful humili 
ty and modesty, and sensible of the detriment they 
had done the public, by depriving them of his whole 
some instructions and directions, joined with all the 
rest of the brethren in begging of the man of God to 
resume his former practice. 

The Saint had now led the life of an anchoret foi 
the space of forty years in his cell, when all the relig 
ious of mount Sinai, with one accord, chose him for 
their abbot; and notwithstanding all his resistance, 
obliged him to quit his hermitage to come and be 
their director and general superior. Thus was this 
<jreat light set in the candlestick, from thence to cast 
his bright rays on every, side, to enlighten the whole 
world. The lustre of his sanctity reached even as far 
as Rome, from whence our most holy Pontiff, St. 
Gregory the Great, wrote to him, testifying the great 
esteem he had of his eminent virtue. It was about 
this time that John, the abbot of Raithu, a famous 
monastery on the confines of Egypt, obtained permis 
sion of our Saint to commit to writing the great lights 
he had received from God for directing and conduct 
ing souls to the very top of the mountain of religious 
perfection. This he has happily executed in his ex 
cellent book, entitled Climax, or the Ladder of thirty 
steps or degrees of Christian virtues, by which th 
toul ascends to the heavenly paradise. It 


that the Saint, before the composing of this work, had 
made a visit to a famous monastery in Egypt, sup 
posed to have been of the order or congregation of 
St. Pachomius, of which he makes frequent mention, 
bestowing the highest encomiums as well on the holy 
abbot, as on several of the monks by name. Here he 
continued a considerable time, and, with the leave of 
the superior, went also to see the monastery, or rather 
prison of the penitents, which was distant about a 
mile off from the abbey, and remained therein thirty 
days. The wonders of divine grace, which he there 
discovered in the whole demeanor of these happy 
penitents, are inserted at large in his fifth step of his 
Ladder, viz. penitence : of which, as it may serve as 
a stimulus to penitent sinners, we vshall here give HII 

" Being come," says he, " into this monastery of the 
penitents, I beheld things which the eye of the sloth 
ful has never seen, the ear of the negligent has never 
heard, and which have never entered into the heart of 
the sluggard, things and words capable of doing vio 
lence, if I may use the expression, to the Almighty. 
I saw some of these penitents standing whole nights 
upright, without allowing themselves any sleep or rest 
whatsoever ; others, in a pitiful manner, looking up 
towards heaven, and calling for help from thence with 
groans, sighs, and prayers ; others, who whilst at 
prayer, had their hands bound behind them like crim- 


inals, bowing down their pale countenances towards 
the ground, declaring aloud that they were unworthy 
to lift up their eyes to heaven, and that they durst not 
presume to speak to God, &c. I saw some, (says he,) 
sitting on the floor covered witli hair-cloth and ashes, 
hiding their faces between their knees, and striking 
their foreheads against the earth ; others beating 
their breasts with inexpressible contrition of heart, 
some of whom watered the ground about them with 
their tears, others grievously lamenting that they 
could not weep, several mourning with a loud cry 
over their own souls, as we mourn over the de<id 
corpse of a dear friend, others ready to roar out for 
grief, eagerly struggling to stifle the noise of their 
complaint^, till being no longer able to repress them, 
they were forced to let them break forth with greater 
violence ; others appeared so astonished, that one 
would have supposed them to be statues of brass, so 
insensible of all things had the excess of their sorrow 
rendered them. Their heart was plunged in an abyss 
of humility, and their scorching grief had dried up all 
their tears, &c. There might you have seen the words 
of David fulfilled in these holy penitents, I am become 
miserable, and am bowed down even to the end : 1 
walked sorrowful all the day long. I am afflicted 
find humbled exceedingly. And again, I am smitten 
us grass and my heart is withered, because I forgot to 
eat my bread. For I did eat ashes like bread, and 


mingled my drink with iveeping. No other words 
could be beard amongst them, but such as these : 
woe, woe to me, a miserable sinner ; tis with justice, 
O Lord, tis with justice ; spare us, O Lord, spare us ; 
have mercy on us. Some of them afflicted themselves 
by standing parching in the most violent heat of the 
sun ; others, on the contrary, exposed themselves to 
suffer no less from extremity of the cold.- Some, in 
the violence of their thirst, taking a small quantity of 
water, contented themselves with only tasting of it. 
whilst others, after eating a morsel of bread, cast the 
rest away, saying : they were not worthy to eat the 
food of men, who had acted more like irrational crea 
tures : there was no room for laughter ; none for idle 
talk ; none for resentment, anger or contradiction ; 
none for mirth, the care of the body, good cheer, or 
the pleasures of eating or drinking; none for the 
least spark of vain-glory. No earthly cares distracted 
them, nor did they know what it was to judge or con 
demn any man but themselves. Their whole employ 
ment, day and night, was to cry to our Lord, and no 
voice was heard amongst them but that of prayer. 
Some there were who, beating their breasts with alS 
their might, as if they were knocking for admittance 
at the gate of heaven, said to the Lord : O open to us 
through thy mercy, the gate which we have shut 
ngainst ourselves by our sins. Another, shoio us only 
<% face, Lord, and we shall be saved. Anothei 


said, show thyself, Lord, to thy poor supplicant^ 
tha: sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, &c 
Having always the hour of death before their eyes, 
they would say, O what shall our end be? -What 
sentence shall then be pronounced upon us ? Will 
God revoke the judgment we have deserved ? Has 
our prayer been able to force its way to the presence 
of the Lord ? Has it been regarded, coming from 
such unclean hearts and lips as ours ? Has some 
part at legist of our sins been blotted out ? for as they 
are very great, they stand in need of many peniten 
tial labors and sorrows to be wholly effaced. Who 
can tell whether even our good angels are near us, to 
present onr prayers, or whether the stench of our sins 
has not driven them away ? &c. To these interroga 
tions some replied : who knows, brethren, as the Nin- 
evites said heretofore, but that our Lord may grant u* 
pardon, and deliver us from that dreadful penance of 
the world to come ? Let us neglect nothing that de 
pends on us ; let us continue to knock at the door of 
his mercy, even till the end of our lives : perhaps he 
will yield to our importunity and perseverance ; tor 
he is good and merciful. Let us run, brethren, let us 
run, for we have need to run, and to run with all our 
speed, that we may recover what we have lost. Lei 
us run, and not spare this filthy flesh ; let us make it 
suffer in time, because it has exposed us to the danger 
of suffering for eternity. Thus said these holy crimi 


mils, and they were as good as their words. Their 
knees were hardened by incessant kneeling; their 
eyes appeared sunk into their sockets ; the hair of 
their eye-lids was fallen off by their continual weep 
ing ; their cheeks were rivelled, and, as it were, 
parched with the scalding brine of their tears ; their 
breasts bruised with blows," &c. 

The Saint having added a great deal more, with re 
gard to the sentiments and dispositions of these holy 
penitents, and all that he saw and heard during his 
stay amongst them, concludes his narration in the fol 
lowing manner: "After I had remained thirty days 
in this prison, I returned to the great monastery, the 
holy abbot, seeing me quite altered, like a man utterly 
astonished, and comprehending the cause of my amaze 
ment, said: Well, how fares it, father John \ Have 
you seen the labors and conflicts of our penitents? 
Yes replied I ; father, I have both seen and admired 
them, and cannot but esteem them more happy who 
mourn in this manner, after falling into sin, than those 
who have not fallen, and therefore bewail not them 
selves ; because it seems to me that their fall has 
been to them an occasion of a most happy and secure 

Our Saint, after publishing this boo-k, did not con 
tinue long in his station of abbot, but exchanged it for 
beloved solitude, returning into the desert to prepare 
himself for eternity. He departed to our Lord, in an 


advanced age, about the year 005, and his name ia en- 
registered amongst the Saints, in the Roman Martyr- 
ology on the thirtieth of March. 


From his Life -written by Leontius, his Cotemporary, 
Bishop of Neapolis, in Cyprus 

THIS Saint, whose life lias been commonly published 
with those of the fathers of the desert, though it does 
not appear that he ever lived in the desert, was born 
at Cyprus, about the year 552, his father, Epiphanius, 
being at that time governor of the island. He was 
brought up from his childhood in Christian piety, and 
amongst other virtues, he was always in a particular 
manner addicted to alms-deeds, and to the works of 
merc^ and charity to the poor ; from whence he has 
ever since been distinguished by the surname of the 
Almoner, or Alms-giver. He was confirmed in the 
luve and practice of this heavenly virtue, by a vision 
he had in his youth, which himself afterwards related 
in the following manner : " When I lived in the island 
of Cyprus, being then no more than fifteen years old t 
I saw one night in a dream a young virgin crowned 
Kith olive, of an incomparable beauty, and more 


bright than the sun, who, standing by my bed, struck 
me on the side, and awaked me. Being at length 
awake, I still perceived her standing in the same spot, 
and supposed her to be a woman ; wherefore, making 
the sign of the cross, I asked who she was, and how 
she could have the boldness to come to my bed side 
whilst I was asleep ? She answered, with a sweet and 
smiling countenance ; I am the eldest daughter of the 
great celestial King : take me for thy friend, and 1 
will conduct thee into his presence ; for no one has so 
much power and interest with him as I have, since it 
was I that even brought him down from heaven to 
earth, and made him become man, in order to save 
man. Having said these words, she instantly disap 
peared. As soon as I recovered from my surprise, I 
began to think that this heavenly beauty represented 
ilms-deeds, and mercy and compassion for the afflicted ; 
oecause it was indeed the mercy, compassion, and 
goodness of God towards mankind, that made him 
come down from heaven, to clothe himself with our 
humanity. Having arisen, I immediately dressed my 
self and without awaking any of the family, went at 
the first dawning of the day to the church. In my 
way I met a poor man trembling with cold, and in 
order to make, as it were, an experiment of the truth 
of the vision, I pulled off my cloak and gave it him. 
Presently after, before I had reached the church door, 
ft stranger, clothed in white, came up, and put a purse 


into my hands, containing a hundred pieces of mcney t 
saying: Take this, my brother, and distribute it as 
you think fit. The joy, together with the surprise in 
which I then found myself, induced me to receive the 
purse without demur; but when, upon reflection, I 
turned back to follow the person, and to return him 
his money, as having no want or occasion for it, he 
vanished out of my sight. From that day I often 
gave alms to my brethren the poor, saying within my 
self: now I shall see whether Jesus Christ, according 
to his promise, will return me a hundred fold ; bv 
which I became guilty of a great sin in tempting God, 
and afterwards conceived a great remorse of conscience 
for it, yet I still received from him, at sundry times, 
and in divers manners, all the satisfaction I could de 
sire." So far the Saint, speaking of his younger days. 
St. John had given the most brilliant examples of 
all virtues, more especially of an unbounded charity 
in a secular life, till about the fifty-fourth year of his 
age, when the great reputation of his sanctity, which 
now spread itself far and near, recommended him so 
strongly to the church of Alexandria, that upon the 
death of Theodore its patriarch, he was chosen his 
successor ; the emperor Heraclius, in the mean time, 
using his utmost influence to overcome the repugnance 
the Saint had to this promotion, of which he thought 
himself infinitely unworthy. As soon as he arrived 
*t Alexandria, he sent for the archdeacon an.d officers 


of the diurch, and said to them ; " It would be unjust, 
0, ray brethren, if we should begin Avith any other 
care or concern, before that which we owe to Jesus 
Christ; wherefore be pleased to go through the city, 
and let nre have an exact list of all my masters." As 
they seemed not to understand his meaning, he ex 
plained himself, saying, that he considered the poor 
not only as his lords and masters, but his coadjutors 
also, who, by their prayers, were to help him to hea 
ven. The list of the poor which they brought in was 
found to amount, in that great and populous city, to 
upwards of seven thousand five hundred ; yet not 
withstanding their being so numerous, the Saint gave 
orders that a daily allowance of necessaries should be 
given to every one of them out of his revenue. 

After his consecration, he immediately applied him 
self, with all diligence and fervor, to execute every 
branch of his pastoral charge with, the utmost perfec 
tion ; and, as a true father of his people, to procure 
them whatever, was either for their spiritual or corpo 
ral welfaie. He began, by putting an effectual stop 
to the frauds and injustices committed in trade, par- 
ik-ularly by false weights and measures, a practice 
which, said he, God, as we learn from his divine word, 
utterly abhors; and, as he was informed, that they 
who had the administration of the temporalities of 
his church, were ofton biassed by presents which were 
made them so as to be partial in the discharge of their 


office, he sent for them, and after appointing them a 
larger salary, strictly forbid them to receive any pres 
ents from any person whatsoever ; because said he, a 
fire shall consume the houses of those that take bribes. 
Being also informed that many who labored under in 
juries and oppressions, were intimidated by his secre 
taries, and other officers, from laying their complaints 
before him ; as a remedy to so great an evil, he or 
dered a chair to be placed before the great church, 
with a bench on each side, where he attended for 
several hours, on every Wednesday and Saturday, to 
give audience, and redress the grievances of all that 
pleased to come for that purpose, and would charge 
the proper officer to see that what he ordered should 
be presently executed. Upon which occasion he used 
to say : " If we poor mortals are allowed at every 
hour to enter the house of God, in order to address 
our supplications to him, and lay all our wants before 
him, though his Majesty be incomprehensible, and in 
finitely elevated above all created beings, if we," con 
tinues he, " are so anxious that he would hear our 
prayers, and make haste to help us, how ready ought 
we to be to hear the petitions, and grant the just de 
mands of our fellow-servants, remembering that say 
ing of our Lord Jesus, with what measure you have 
measured, it shall be measured to you again" Matt 
vii. 2. 

Oil these occasions, it was the custom of our Sa:nt, 


tfho hated idleness, either to employ his time in read 
ing the holy Scriptures, whilst he was waiting in or 
der to give audience to such as should apply to him, 
or in spiritual conferences with some servants of God : 
but one day having remained there till noon, without 
being applied to by any one, he withdrew, with tears 
in his eyes, saying : that none of his people had favor 
ed him that day, or afforded him any opportunity of 
offering something to Jesus Christ, in order to cancel 
his own innumerable sins. Sophronius, a great ser 
vant of God, who sat by him, replied, that he ought 
rather rejoice to find that God had made him his in 
strument in establishing so good a harmony and per 
feet a peace amongst the sheep committed to his 
charge, that there was not even one to be found 
amongst them that had any difference or misunder 
standing with his neighbor ; for this indeed, said he, 
is converting men into angels. 

This Sophronius, with John his companion, men 
equally eminent both for their wisdom and their sanc 
tity, were sent by divine providence to the assistance 
of our Saint. He made use of them, upon all occa 
sions, as his counsellors and directors, and obeyed 
them with as much submission as if they had been his 
fathers ; and his esteem, as well as his love for them 
were the more increased by the success that attended 
the exertion of their eminent talents in bringing back 
fo God inn r. onerable souU who had been unhappily 


seduced by the Eutychian heresy, which th^n great] j 
prevailed all over Egypt, even amongst many of th<s 
religious. By means of these holy men, the Saint 
had the comfort of beholding in his days, not only- 
many private houses and families, but also several 
churches and monasteries, delivered out of the jaws 
of the internal wolf, and again restored to the true 
fold of Christ, the Catholic Church. As to our Saint, 
he incessantly warned his flock to avoid all communion 
in spirituals with any who were separated by heresy 
from the communion of the church, and not so much 
as to enter into their churches or meeting houses, 
much less to join with them in prayer, even though 
any one should be so unhappily circumstanced as to 
be confined during his whole life to a place where he 
could never see a catholic priest, or receive any of 
the holy sacraments ; for, said he, as the laws of God 
and man forbid any one, who has a wife living, to 
coha.bit with another woman, how distant or for how 
long a time soever his lawful wife may be separated 
from him, so he who has been espoused to Christ in 
the Catholic Church, cannot without the crime of 
spiritual adultery, upon any pretext whatsoever, en 
gage himself in the communion of heretics. 

Exclusive of the assistance that our Saint received 
in tho discharge of his pastoral office from those two 
great men, he was also desirous of participating in the 
prayers and merits of the holy solitaries, fur whosi 


mnnner of life, though he had never been a solitary 
himself, he conceived the utmost esteem. To this end, 
having assembled together a number of saint-like an- 
cLorets out of the deserts, he distributed them into 
two bands, and built cells for them in two chapels 
erected at his own charges ; the one dedicated to the 
blessed Virgin, the other to St. John ; furnishing them 
with all necessaries out of his own farms, in order, as 
ho told them, that whilst he, under God, took upon 
himself the care of providing for their corporal suste 
nance, they, on their part, should provide for the spir 
itual necessities of his soul, especially by offering up 
to God in his behalf their evening and midnight de 
votions. These foundations of our Saint were of great 
edification to the faithful of Alexandria, many of 
whom, in different parts of the city, were excited by 
the example of these holy men, to pass whole nights 
in singing the praises of God. 

It would be an endless task to relate the particulars 
of all the great things done by our Saint during the 
ten years of his episcopal administration, as well fo. 
the promoting of the glory of God, as for the sanctifi- 
cation and salvation of the souls committed to hia 
lharge, together with the many wonderful examples 
he gave of humility, meekness, patience, charity 
for all, even his enemies, and the rest of the evaii- 
oplical virtues; but as the most distinctive traits in 
his charac* M- were the most tender compassion for the 


poor and distressed, and an unbounded liberality in 
point of alms-deeds, we cannot refrain from adducing 
the following extraordinary instances. In his time 
Chosroes, king of Persia, having laid waste Syria, and 
other parts of the eastern empire, and carried off a 
great number of Christians intq captivity and slavery 
such as could escape his hands made the best of their 
way to Alexandria, and presented themselves in great 
multitudes to the man of God, as the known refuge of 
all the distressed. The Saint received them all with 
open arms, and as many of them were sick and wound 
ed, he placed in hospitals or other lodgings, where 
they were all entertained at his charges, and as long 
as they themselves chose to remain, the most tender 
care was taken of them ; and as to the rest, who were 
innumerable, he ordered his almoners to give a piece 
of silver to every man that applied to them for charity, 
and two to every woman or girl, in consideration of 
the weakness of their sex. His almoners perceiving 
amongst the great numbers of those that applied for 
relief, some to be richly clad, made a scruple of giving 
them any money, and came to consult the Saint on 
the subject ; but he being highly displeased at their not 
having complied to the letter, with those words of our 
Lore : Luke vi. 30. Give to every one that askcih 
tkce, desired they would not in future b3 so inquisitive 
into the circumstances of those who came to crave 
alnis, but rather distribute that which belonged to 


God with a bountiful hand, according to the will and 
commandment of Christ. " But if your little faith" 
said he, " makes you apprehend lest my income should 
not be sufficient to furnish wherewith to relieve such 
great numbers, I will by no means become a partaker 
in your unbelief ; for since it has pleased God to 
make me, though most unworthy, the dispenser of his 
goods, if all the men in the world were to come to 
Alexandria to crave alms I would relieve them, under 
an entire confidence that they would never be able 
to exhaust his immense stores, nor those of the 

Whilst this great multitude of strangers remained 
at Alexandria, one of them, in order to put the Saint s 
extreme charity and compassion for the distressed to a 
trial, presented himself in a ragged garment one day 
when the man of God was going to the hospital to visit 
the sick, which he constantly did twice or thrice in a, 
week, and begged he would have pity on a poor cap 
tive, and order him some relief. The Saint immedi 
ately ordered his almoner to give him six pieces of 
stiver. No sooner had he received this alms but he 
departed, and having changed his dress, and met the 
Saint again in another street, he cast himself at his 
feet, saying, he was a poor man in the utmost distress, 
and begged his assistance. The holy prelate then told 
his almoner to give him six pieces of gold, although 
this officer had just whispered in his ear, and told him 


it was the very same person whom he had relieved a 
little before. Again he came a third time, still im 
ploring the charity of the man of God, and when the 
almoner signified that it was the same identical person, 
the Saint answered, give him twelve pieces of gold ; 
for possibly, said he, this may be Jesus Christ, my 
Saviour, who is come on purpose to try me ; alluding, 
in all probability, to what had happened not long be 
fore to St. Gregory the Great. 

Tn the mean time the Persians continuing their de 
vastations in the eastern provinces, drove still greater 
numbers of people to Alexandria, to shelter themselves 
there under the charitable wings of our Saint, who not 
content with relieving all that came, sent also consider 
able alms to Modestus, the patriarch of Jerusalem, at 
this tame reduced to the greatest extremity with all 
his people by the Persians, who had taken that city 
and burnt the churches. With this alms he sent also 
a letter to the patriarch, apologizing for not sending 
something more worthy of the temple of God, and de 
claring how glad he should be, if circumstances would 
permit him to come himself in person, and labor with 
bis own hands in rebuilding the holy church of the 
bepulchr-e and resurrection of our Lord, requesting also 
that he would excuse his want of the means, and ob 
tain for him, by his prayers, that his name might be 
written in the book of life. 

At this time the innumerable mu itude of personi 


that cam a from all parts to Alexandria, made all sorts 
of provisions exceedingly dear, more especially as the 
harvest had failed in Egypt, the Nile not having over 
flowed that year as usual. The Saint, who could not 
endure to see distress laid out all the money he had 
01 could any way procure, either by begging or bor 
rowing of good people, till at length, all being spent, 
no one could be found that would lend him any more, 
every body apprehending, lest by the continuance of 
the famine, they should come themselves to want ; 
when behold, amidst these extremities, as if God had 
a mind to try the fidelity of his servants, a rich citi 
zen, who was desirous of being promoted to holy or 
ders, but was prevented by the canons of the Church, 
on account of his having been twice married, made 
him an offer of two hundred thousand bushels of wheat 
which he had stored up, together with a very large 
sum of money to be disposed of in charities, upon con 
dition he would dispense with the irregularity he had 
incurred by his bigamy, and ordain him deacon. The 
Saint told him, that although the offering which he 
proposed could never come at a time in which it was 
more wanted, he nevertheless could not accept it, a.s 
it was defective and tainted by the condition to which 
it was annexed, because the law of God required that 
the sacrifice offered to him should be clean and with 
out blemish : and as to the. present necessities of hia 
brethren, the poor, as well as those of the Church, ha 


was confident that the same divine goodness which 
had hitherto taken care of them, would still continue 
to feed and support them, provided, said he, we invio 
lably observe what he commands us. No sooner had 
he returned this answer, and dismissed the ambitious 
aspirer to a spiritual promotion, but his people brought 
him the gladsome tidings that the two great ships be 
longing to the Church, which he had sent to Sicily, 
were just arrived in the port laden with corn ; upon 
which the man of God prostrated himself on the 
ground, and returned hearty thanks to our Lord, who 
had not only preserved him from sin under that trial, 
but had immediately sent him such a seasonable and 
abundant provision. 

It was wonderful to relate the many other occasions 
wherein it pleased God to furnish his servant with ex 
traordinary supplies in order to support his boundless 
charities, so that, generally .speaking, the more he gave 
away, the more he received from the divine bounty 
through the hands of charitable Christians, and some 
times not without an evident miracle. A citizen, who 
after living in opulent circumstances had been sud 
denly reduced to extreme poverty, applied to the Saint 
in the church for an alms ; he recollecting him to have 
been not long before a wealthy man, had great com 
passion on him, and whispered to his almoner to give 
him fifteen pounds of gold ; which when the almoner 
was going to exe *ute, he was persuaded by the secr> 


lary and the steward to give him onl} five pounds. 
The Saint returning home from the chirch, was met. 
by a rich widow, who put a promissory note in his 
hands, in which she obliged herself to give him five 
hundred pieces of gold for the poor. Having received 
the note, and knowing in spirit that it was sent to re 
compense the charity given to the abovementioned 
citizen, he required and found out that his officers had 
only given him five pounds instead of fifteen, where 
upon he told them they would be answerable to God 
for the other thousand pieces of gold which the good 
lady that had given the note for the five hundred had 
designed for the poor, if they had not abridged her 
charity by not complying with his. In order to con 
vince them thereof, having sent for the lady, he asked 
her in their presence, if the sum mentioned in the 
note was what she originally intended to give to Jesus 
Christ, or whether she had proposed to give him a 
larger sum? She suspecting by this question that 
what had passed had been revealed from heaven, she 
was struck with fear and astonishment, and assured 
him in the most solemn manner, that she had actually 
written fifteen hundred pieces of gold, but that look 
ing at the note just before she had presented it to him 
at church, she found to her great astonishment, the 
fifteen hundred changed into five hundred, but knew 
not by what means nor by whom, as the paper had 
never been in any other person s hands but her own, 


and therefore concluded it t<> be the will of God thai 
she should give no more than five hundred. 

A captain of a ship, a stranger, having suffered 
great losses at sea, besought our Saint, with many 
tears, that he would have the same compassion for him 
as he had on all others in distress ; he ordered his al 
moner to give him the weight of five pounds in gold ; 
which sum enabled him to repair his vessel and put to 
sea again. But scarcely had he sailed out of port, 
when a storm arose which obliged him to fling all his 
goods overboard, and it was with the utmost difficulty 
he saved his ship. Again he applied to the Saint, 
begging he would have compassion on him for the 
sake of him who had shown pity to the whole world. 
The holy prelate having told him, that this misfortune 
had befallen him in consequence of his having min 
gled the charity money which he received of the church 
with what remained of his own former illgotten wealth, 
and that therefore he had lost both, gave him now the 
weight of ten pounds in gold, bidding him take care 
not to mix it with any other money. Thus being en 
abled to repair and load his vessel with a fresh cargo, 
he tried his fortune a second time, but with worse suc 
cess than ever, for being cast away upon the coast he 
lost both ship and cargo, and hardly escaped with hi* 
life. This latter misfortune drove him into so violent 
a fit of despair, that he was almost tempted to make 
away with himso f, if the holy patriarch, who load 


earnt by revelation all that had happened, had not 
sent for him to comfort him, with the assurance that 
.he like misfortune should never again befall him, and 
,hat this was permitted in consequence of his having 
obtained by unjust means possession of his ship, 
Then in order to set him up in the world again, the 
Saint appointed him captain of the large vessel be 
longing to the church of Alexandria and sent him out 
laden with twenty thousand bushels of wheat. What 
follows is an abstract of the account given by the cap 
tain himself, with the most solemn asseveration of its 
veracity: "We sailed," said he "during the space 
of twenty days and twenty nights with so violent a 
wind that not being able, either by the stars or the 
sight of any land, to know in what part of the world 
we were, we should have given ourselves up for lost, 
had not the pilot assured us that he saw the holy pa 
triarch by his side at the helm, bidding him not to 
fear, for that we were in the right road. On the 
twentieth day we came within sight of England, 
where, when we put to land, we found a great famine. 
Upon our making it known that we were laden with 
corn, the principal magistrate of the place told us God 
had sent us to assist them in their extremity; and 
having given us our choice either to receive money or 
the weight of our corn in British tin, we chose one 
half in coin, the other in tin. But behold a stil) 
gre vter wonder wrought by our Lord, as a recompense 


for the charity of our Saint : as soon as the ship re 
turned safe back to the coast of Egypt, some of the 
British tin being sold by the captain to a dealer in 
pewter, who on melting it down, found it pure silver ; 
upon which, when he went to reproach the captain, as 
if he had suspected his honesty, and meant by a strat 
agem to put it to a trial, the whole was carefully ex 
amined, and all found to be excellent silver. 

But as our Saint had, on so many occasions, received 
these miraculous supplies, in order to enable him to 
continue his extraordinary charities, so was he also 
sometimes tried, like Job, with great losses, which 
were shortly after repaid to him with interest. Nice- 
tas, the governor, urged on by some evil counsellors, 
under the pretence of the pressing necessities of the 
state, on account of relieving of the Persian war, de 
manded and carried off, in the name of the emperor, 
nil the money that had been brought to our Saint for 
charitable uses, leaving him master of only one hun 
dred crowns ; but on the same day, a stranger, from 
the coast of Barbary, brought him large sums of mo 
ney, sent by charitable Christians ; and the governor 
himself, before it was night, (upon reading a paper 
sent on this occasion by the man of God, in which he 
iiad written theso words, " Our Lord, who has said, / 
irill not leave tkee, neither will I forsake tlnee, cannot 
tell a Ik-, because, he is the truth ; and therefore a 
wretched man, who must shortly b the food of worrna, 


tannot tie up the hands of God, who furnishes all his 
creatures with both food and life,") returned all the 
money he had taken from him, adding thereto three 
hundred crowns of his own, and offering to undergo 
what penance the patriarch should oe* pleased to im 
pose on him for his crime. 

At another time the Saint sustained a very great 
loss, when all the vessels belonging to the church of 
Alexandria, to the number of thirteen, meeting with 
a violent storm in the Adriatic sea, were constrained 
to fling their whole freight, consisting of corn and 
other goods, overboard. On this occasion the holy 
patriarch said with Job, i. the Lord gave and the Lord 
hath taken, away, as it hath pleased the Lord, so it is 
done, blessed be the name of the Lord : and told his 
friends who came to condole with him on his misfor 
tune, that with respect to himself he rather consider 
ed it more to his advantage than his loss, imputing it 
entirely to his having taken too much complacency in 
his alms, without sufficiently guarding against the 
danger of being infected by vainglory ; that he was 
very sensible of what service afflictions and humilia 
tions are to purify the soul from the dross of pride and 
vanity, being convinced as well as the psalmist, It is 
good for me that thou humbled me, that I may learn 
thy justifications, Ps. 118 ; that however severely, 
as to his own part, he deserved to be punished on ao 
coun fc . of his having given occasion, by his vanity, U 


so many innocent persons being thus reduced, yet as 
God was still the same as he was in the days of Job, 
he trusted, that notwithstanding his own unworthiness, 
he would help them out of their distress. This confi 
dence of ourS*int was amply recompensed, for no\ 
long after our Lord restored him by one means or 
other, twice as much as he had lost, the whole of 
which he employed in comforting and assisting more 
abundantly than ever the poor and distressed. 

The Saint being informed that one of his servants 
had labored under a pressing necessity, gave him pri 
vately with his own hand the weight of two pounds 
in gold ; and when the man, confounded at the excess 
of his goodness towards him, told him he did not 
know he should be able to look him any more in the 
face : " Brother," replied the Saint, " I have not yet 
shed my blood for you, as Christ our common Master 
and God has done for us all, and has commanded us 
to do for our brethren." 

One of the citizens being closely pressed to pay a 
debt, which he had not at that time the means to dis 
charge, addressed himself to a rich nobleman, begging 
he would lend him fifty pounds of gold upon proper 
security. He assured him he would, but delayed to 
put his promise in execution, whilst the other, still 
closely watched by his creditor, apprehending he 
would proceed to extremeties, had recourse to tho 
holy patriarch whose heart and hand were ever opec 


Ic relieve the necessities of all. No sooner had he 
told him his case, but the Saint replied : " My son, if 
your necessity required it, I would even give you the 
clothes off my back," and without further hesitation 
he lent him the whole sum. The following night the 
nobleman saw in a dream a person standing upon an 
altar, to whom many others approached to make their 
offerings, and for every offering they laid upon the 
altar they received a hundred fold in return. Ho 
seemed also to observe the holy patriarch come in im 
mediately after him, and that there lay a sum of money 
upon a bench before him, which one of the bystanders 
bid him take up and offer upon the altar, that he 
might receive a hundred fold ; but as he hesitated and 
was dilatory in doing as he was desired, the patriarch, 
who stood behind him, stept forward, took up the of 
fering, and putting it upon the altar, presently after 
wards received a hundred fold. The next morning 
the nobleman having sent for the man, offered to let 
him have the money he wanted ; but he replied, that 
his lordship s delays to fulfil his promise had obliged 
him to have recourse to the holy patriarch, by whom 
he was immediately relieved ; upon which the other 
related the vision he had seen, and severely condemn 
ed himself for having lost, by his want cf diligence in 
doing good, that great reward wherewith God recom 
penses those works which are done for his sake 

Amongst the many others who, on seeing the bound- 


less charities of the Saint, brought their money to him 
to be disposed of at his discretion for the relief of the 
poor, a man who had an only son aged fifteen years, 
came one day and presented him the weight of seven 
pounds and a half of gold, assuring him it was all he 
had, and only besought him to pray for his son, whom, 
he had sent in a ship k> the coast of Africa, that God 
would protect him and conduct him back in safety 
with his vessel to the haven. The Saint did not only 
pray himself, but also earnestly recommended the wel 
fare of the youth and the vessel to the prayers of h : js 
clergy, as the man had desired ; when behold, before 
the expiration of thirty days, the boy being taken ill 
died, and shortly after the ship, in which was also the 
uncle of the youth, on returning home, was cast away 
near the port of Alexandria, and nothing whatever 
saved but the lives of the persons on board, and the 
boat which conveyed them on shore. The melancholy 
news of the loss of his son and his ship arriving so 
rapidly one after the other, caused the most inexpressi 
ble affliction to the poor man. The holy patriarch 
was also exceedingly affected with it, more especially 
on account of the death of his only son ; wherefore, 
not knowing what else to do, be besought the Father 
of mercies, and God of all consolation, to comfort the 
afflicted parent. Then sending a messenger t:> the 
man, as he had not the courage to see or speak to 
himself in person, he desired him not to lose his confr 


dence in God, whose judgments, though inscrutable, 
are nevertheless just, and according to what he knows 
is best for us, though we do not ; and therefore cau 
tioned him against any want of resignation on this oc 
casion, lest he should bereave himself of the immense 
reward which God had prepared to recompense his 
faith and chanty, manifested in the offering he had 
made to God. This message was followed by a dream 
or vision the ensuing night, in which the maji of God 
appeared to the afflicted parent while asleep, and said 
to him, " Why do you afflict yourself, dear brother, 
and suffer yourself to be thus oppressed with grief? 
Did not you desire me to pray to. God to save your 
son, and behold he has saved him. For I can assure 
you, that had he lived he would have become a very 
lewd man ; and as for your ship, had not God been 
moved to mercy, by the good work you did in ad 
dressing your charity to me, it would have been utterly 
lost, together with every person on board, so that you 
would have lost your brother also. Arise, then, and 
return thanks to God not only for preserving the life 
of your brother, but also for having saved your son, 
by taking him to himself before he became corrupted 
by the wicked maxims and vanities of the world." 
Having awoke and found himself wonderfully com 
forted, he went early in the morning to the patriarch, 
to return thanks to God and to him, and related to 
him the vision he had seen. The holy man having 


glorified God, for his infinite goodness, desired the 
other not to attribute any thing of what happened to 
his prayers, but to God alone, and the faith he had 
placed in God ; foi the blessed prelate had always the 
meanest opinion of himself, as was ever apparent from 
all his words and whole comportment, as he would 
never suffer any thing of good to be ascribed to him. 

One of the principal men of the city, observing that 
the Saint, who was so liberal to others, allowed him 
self only a poor little bed on the floor, with an old tat 
tered blanket for a covering for his lodging, sent him 
in one day a rich coverlet that cost six and thirty 
pieces of silver, conjuring him to make use of it for his 
sake. The servant of God, yielding to his importuni 
ty, used it for one night ; but as they that lay in the 
same chamber observed, that instead of sleeping he 
spent the whole night in reproaching himself in the 
following manner with lying beneath such a rich cov 
ering, whilst the brethren of Jesus Christ, as he called 
the poor, lay starving with hunger and cold, and des 
titute of all the commodities of life : " and thou who 
aspirest after the joys of a happy eternity," he said to 
himself, " thou who drinkest wine, eatest good nsh, 
art well lodged, and, like one of the children of this 
wicked world, art also warmly covered, and liest at thy 
ease under a coverlet that cost six-and-thirty pieces of 
silver ; surely living in so unmortified a manner, in- 
rtead of expecting the joys of heaven hereafter, thou 


hast rather cause to apprehend that sentence pro 
nounced on the rich man will fall to thy lot, to whom 
it was said, Luke xvi. Thou didst receive good things 
in thy life time, and lilceiuise Lazarus evil things : but 
now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." The 
result of these reflections was, that he resolved to get 
rid of this rich piece of furniture the next morning, and 
sell it for the benefit of the poor, which he did with 
out any delay. When the gentleman saw his present 
exposed for sale, he purchased it, arid sent it to him 
again, entreating him to make use of it : he sold it a 
second time, and again in like manner a third time, 
giving the price of it to the poor, and telling his 
friends, with a pleasant countenance, " we shall now 
see which of us shall be first wearied out." This gen 
tleman being very rich, and one from whom the Saint 
received many things, which he gave to the poor, upon 
these and similar occasions the Saint used to say, it 
was no harm to get all he could from the rich for the 
service of the poor, since by so doing he served both 
the one and the other ; the poor, by relieving their 
wants, and the rich, by affording them the occasion to 
purchase heaven by their alms. 

Amongst other exercises and lessons of charity 
which the Saint inculcated to his people, we must not 
pass over his sentiments with regard to the manner in 
which masters ought to treat their servants. Attend 
to the manner in which he expressed himself ons day 


on this subject, to one who was cruel and inhuman td 
his slaves : " My son," said he, with the utmost meek 
ness, " I understand that by the temptation of the ene 
my, you are apt to treat your servants ill ; let me en 
treat of you, for the time to come, to stop till your 
passion is passed over before you offer to correct them. 
For God has given them to us in order that they may 
serve us, but not that we should beat and abuse them ; 
nay, perhaps he may have given them more witli a 
view of exercising our patience, in supporting their 
faults and defects, than for any other service they can 
do. But tell me, Sir, with what price could you buy 
any one of these who has the honor to have been 
created, no less than yourself, after the imago and like 
ness of God ; for, though you are his master, what 
have you either in body or so-nl that he has not ? 
Give ear to St. Paul, Gal. iii. For as many of you 
that have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ ; 
there is neither Jew nor Greek : tJtere is neither bond 
nor free : there is neither male nor female-. For you 
are all one in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ then, by 
taking upon himself the form of a servant, has taught 
us that we ought not to lift ourselves by pride over 
those whom he had made our servants : for as the 
prophet teaches us, Ps. 112, there is but one great 
Niaster and Lord of the universe, who is as the Lord 
Wir God, ivho dwellcth on hif/h, and looketh down 
on the low things, in heaven and in earth; he doea 


not say on the high things, but on the low things. 
How then can we pretend to domineer over those 
who have been redeemed, no less than ourselves, with 
the blood of our God and Master, for whose service ha 
has made the heavens, the sun, the stars, the earth 
the sea, and all the things therein ; for whose pro 
bection he employs his angels, and for whom the Son 
of God has subjected himself to all the humiliations 
and torments of his passion ? Can you, I say, Sir, 
treat with contempt this man whom God treats with 
honor ? Shall you strike him as you would a beast, 
or as if he were not of the same nature as yourself? 
Tell me whether you be willing that every time you 
offend God he should punish you the same moment ? 
I am certain you would not. How then can you say 
daily to God, for gi ve us our trespasses, as we forgive 
them that trespass against us? Do you do as you 
would be done by ? " 

This charity which the Saint inculcated to others he 
ever practised himself, without excepting his very ene 
mies. Instead of being offended against those who 
had injured or wronged him, he, on the contrary, con 
ferred on them greater favors, that he might overcome 
evil with good ; nay, he even humbled himself some 
times to impenitent sinners, by casting himself at their 
feet, and begging their pardon, although the fault was 
wholly on their side, that by these means he might 
bring them to a reconciliation with God and his Church. 


One day a beggar having asked an alms of the holj 
patriarch, he ordered them that accompanied him to 
give him ten pieces of brass. The man, who expect 
ed more, instead of thanks returned him very abusive 
language, and treated him in a most insolent man 
ner. Those that were present, being moved to indig 
nation, would have punished the wretch upon the 
spot, had not the Saint severely reproved them, say 
ing, " Let him finish what he has a mind to say ; 
for why should not I, my brethren, suffer this small 
injury from a poor man, I who, for these sixty years, 
have been continually offending and injuring my God 
by my sins ? " 

Amongst other chanties, the Saint also founded 
several hospitals ; and whilst a great mortality raged 
at Alexandria, he was very assiduous in attending such 
as were at the point of death, and in assisting them in 
their agony. He was also very diligent, not only in 
providing himself, but in ordering prayers to be offer 
ed in behalf of the souls of the faithful departed. In 
recommendation of this charity, and as a proof of the 
efficacy of such prayers, he related what had happen 
ed not long before to one of his countrymen, who had 
been carried away captive by the Persians, and cast 
into a prison called Lethe, or Oblivion. His friends 
having heard that he was dead, procured prayers to 
be said three several times every year, for the repose 
e* his soul ; at each of which fas he assures them, 


when after four years he made bis escape out of pris- 
DII, and returned home) he was always visited and 
comforted by a person shining like the sun, and was 
delivered on those occasions from his chains for the 
whole day. 

The Saint recommended very much to his people 
the remembrance of death, as a most "wholesome 
meditation for all men ; and having been told, that 
on the day of the coronation of the emperor, several 
pieces of different sorts of marble were presented to 
him, in order that he might choose the kind of which 
he would have his tomb made, that being ever mind 
ful of his mortality and speedy return to dust, he 
might not suffer himself to be puffed up with pride, 
but take care to live and govern in such a manner, as 
to be always prepared for his last end ; he also, with 
the same intention, gave orders to have a sepulchre 
prepared for himself amongst the tombs of the patri 
archs his predecessors, but that it should not be finish 
ed till his death ; in the mean time he desired that 
the workmen, upon certain solemn days, should come 
and tell him, in presence of all his clergy : " My lore 1 ., 
your tomb remains unfinished, give orders, if you 
please, that it may be completed, since you know no! 
the hour, as the scripture says, when the thief shall 
come." He also often entertained his friends that 
came to visit him with this same subject, of the con 
tinual thought we ought to have of death, and of thai 


separation which shall then take place between the 
soul and body. " I am of opinion," said he, " that the 
means to work out our salvation is, to be always think 
ing with sorrow on the hour of our death, and to 
consider well that we shall have no one to share with 
us the pains and conflicts we must then go through 
that at that hour the whole world shall forsake us, our 
good works excepted, which will never abandon us : 
to think how great our astonishment and affliction 
must be, if at our departure hence we are not prepared 
for our trial : to reflect that it will be in vain then 
to ask for a little more time wherein to do penance 
when we shall be reproached for having had so much, 
and made such ill use of it. " And how," said he, 
11 shall poor John, (for so he commonly called himself) 
escape the claws of those cruel beasts that shall watch 
to catch him at his departure hence ? What can he 
do when he shall see before him those bands of evil 
spirits, who shall strictly examine him, and charge 
home upon him all the evil he had done?" Which, 
he said, alluding to a vision in which St. Simon Sty- 
iites had seen in spirit, how, at the time of the separa 
tion of the soul from the body, when she would will 
ingly fly up towards heaven, she meets with devils in 
her way, divided into different companies, according 
to the different vices which they usually suggest ; and 
that the demons of pride examine the soul upon the 
ains committed in that kind : those of impurity ex 


Rmine her upon all her carnal sins and impure d ilec- 
tations : those of detraction, upon every word that 
has proceeded out of her mouth against her neighbor : 
and so of all her other sins. Our Saint had this vision 
often in mind ; as also that passage of the life of St. 
Hilarion, of the fear and apprehension he had, and 
the words he spoke to his soul, when he was upon the 
point of death ; and therefore he would often be say 
ing to himself: "If so great a Saint, who had served 
our Lord for such a number of years, who had wrought 
so many miracles, and even raised the dead to life, yefc 
apprehended so much that dreadful hour, what shalt 
thou be able to say or do, when thou shalt, find thy 
self encompassed by those cruel and unmerciful exam 
iners of all thy actions ? What shalt thou be able to 
answer to such of these unhappy spirits as shall ex 
amine thee with regard to thy lies, thy detraction, thy 
hardheartedness, thy avarice, thy remembrance of in 
juries, or thy ill-will, &c. O merciful God, may thy 
almighty hand defend me at that hour from all the 
efforts of these enemies of my salvation ! May thy 
goodness send thy angels to guide and conduct me 
safe in this last great and dangerous journey from time 
to eternity ! " Such were the sentiments of our Saint, 
in his entertainments upon this most interesting sub- 
J3Ct, of the soul s passage out of this world into the 

St, John had now illustrated the church of Alexaa* 


dria for ten years as a burning and a shining liyhi, 
when the time drawing near in which our Lord de 
signed to take him to himself, he resigned his patri 
archal see, and retired into his native country, Cyprus, 
in order to prepare himself for eternity. As soon as he 
arrived at Amathus, the place of his nativity, having 
a foreknowledge, by revelation, of his approaching 
death, he made his last will and testament in words to 
this effect : " I John, who was born a slave to sin, but 
have been made a free man by the grace of God, who, 
without any deserts of mine, has raised me to the 
priestly dignity, return thee most humble thanks, O 
Lord, that thou hast vouchsafed to hear the prayer I 
have made to thee, that I should not possess at my 
death any more than one small piece of money ; and 
that whereas when I was made bishop I had great 
treasures at my disposal, and have received since im 
mense sums from thy servants, thou hast always made 
me sensible that all this store was thine, and hast done 
me the favor ever to give back to thee without delay 
what belonged to thee ; therefore, as this piece of 
money which remains belongs also to tltee no less than 
all the rest, I desire it may be likewise returned to 
thee, by putting it into the hands of the poor." 

St. John the Almoner departed to our Lord in tht 
sixty fourth year of his age, anno 616. His body wa 
interred in the church of Amathus, in the chapel o* 
St. Tychon, formerly bishop of that see, where manj 


miracles were afterwards wrought through his interces 
sion. His name is recorded in the Roman Martyr 
ology on the twenty-third of January. 


From her ancient Life, "by a Writer of the same Age 
believed "by many to have "been St. Athanasiua. 

ST. SYNCLETICA was born at Alexandria, about the 
latter part of the third century, of noble and wealthy 
Christian parents, whom God had blessed with four 
children, two sons and two daughters. One of the 
sons died very young, the other, having attained to the 
age of twenty-five, when, at the desire of his parents, 
he was contracted to a young lady, and when all things 
were prepared for solemnizing the marriage, he was 
suddenly carried off by death into another region, 
where they neither marry nor are given in marriage. 
Syncletica, the eldest of the two daughters, from her 
tender years consecrated her heart to the love of Christ, 
and accustomed herself to the exercises of Christian 
piety and solid devotion, taking always far more care 
of the soul than of the body. As she advanced in 
age she increased in virtue and in the love of purity, 
which determined her to choose no other spouse but 


Jesus Christ. For the love of him she rejected the 
most advantageous worldly offers that could be inado 
her; and instead of the outward ornaments of the 
body, which those of her ago and quality are usually 
so fond of, she diligently procured the better ornaments 
of the interior house of her soul, where she desired to 
entertain the King of kings, who is beautiful above the 
sons of men. Hence she carefully shunned all dan 
gerous worldly diversions and unprofitable recreations, 
seeking always the conversation of such as entertained 
her with godly discourses and exhortations to piety, to 
whom she hearkened with the most diligent attention, 
laying up their words in her memory, and meditating 
frequently upon them. In the mean time she waa 
exceeding temperate, and mortified in her eating and 
drinking, looking upon this virtue as the best preserv 
ative of purity ; and though by her fasting and other 
austerities, her countenance became both pale and 
meagre, yet she regarded it not, being not so desirous 
to please the eyes of men as those of God ; and find 
ing by experience that what weakened the body served 
to invigorate the soul. However, she was always dis 
creet in these corporal mortifications, and took all pos 
sible care to conceal them, from being either seen or 
observed by others. 

Her parents dying, left her mistress of all their 
worldly substance ; so that now finding herself at full 
liberty to follow the call of God, and to retire alto 


Aether from the world, after having made a sufficient 
trial of herself, by way of preparation for those aus 
terities she designed to embrace, she disposed of all 
her wealth in favor of the poor ; and cutting off her 
hair, in token of her renouncing the world and all its 
superfluities, she withdrew herself from the town, and 
chose a sepulchre, or monument, in the neighborhood, 
for her dwelling place, during the remainder of the 
days of her mortality, taking also along with her her 
youngest sister, who was also desirous of following the 
same kind of life. Here she lived separated in a man 
ner from the conversation either of men or women, in 
the exercises of mortification, penance, and continual 
prayer. Her food was coarse bread made of bran ; 
her ordinary drink was water, and her bed the bare 
ground ; and as the watchful enemy plied her with 
frequent and troublesome temptations, she opposed to 
all his assaults the buckler of faith, with the helmet 
of hope and confidence in our Lord, to whom she had 
continual recourse; and on these occasions she re 
doubled her austerities in order to keep the flesh in 
subjection, yet so as still to have an eye upon the salt 
of prudence and discretion, wherewith our Lord wills 

hat all the sacrifices we offer to him should be sea 
soned, Levit. ii. 13. Far from conceiving a good opin 
ion of herself for having quitted her worldly goods, 
she kept herself always humble ; by thinking she was 

Btill at a very great distance from what she ought to 


bo , and instead of contenting herself with that volun- 
tar.; poverty which she had embraced when she re 
nowned all exterior possessions, she made it her chief- 
eet labor to purify her soul, as well from all desires 
and afleotions to any thing created, as from all those 
spiritual vices that are apt to lurk secretly in the 

Notwithstanding her utmost endeavors to hide her 
eminent vnUies from the eyes of others, and to avoid, 
as much as possible, all commerce with the world, yet, 
as the almighty had so ordered it for his own greater 
glory, and the good of a great number of souls, she 
could not keep herself so closely concealed as to pre 
vent the sweet odour of her sanctity from breaking 
forth from her sepulchre, and spreading herself, by 
degrees over the whole neighborhood. Hence many 
devout virgins came to visit her, desiring to profit by 
her heavenly conversation, and to learn from her lips 
the lesson:! of religious perfection and of a truly chris- 
tian life. At first humility would not suffer her to 
converse with theni, or give them the instructions they 
desired ; but wheu (hey pressed her to speak on di 
vine matters, she coutented herself with edifying them 
by her silence, sighs and tears, till at length charity 
prevailing over humility, she yielded to their impor 
tunity, and gave them many excellent lessons for the 
regulating of their lives, set down at large by oar au 
thor in her life, as a rule for such holy virgins as aa- 


pfce after religious perfection, of whom she is generally 
considered the mother and foundress. 

She begins by inculcating to them as her principal 
lesson, to have always before their eyes, and to im 
print deeply in their hearts the two principal com 
mandments : thou shalt love the Lord thy God with 
thy whole heart, &c. and thy neighbor as thyself: 
which she tells them are an abridgment of the whole 
divine law, and comprise all the perfection God de 
sires from us. That in the exercise of this divine 
love, those who desire to dedicate themselves to God, 
must fix no bounds to themselves, but endeavor always 
to advance : that they must not content themselves 
with being the land that bringeth forth only thirty 
fold, but must labor to bring forth sixty, and a hun 
dred fold : that as it would be infinitely dangerous 
to fall from a higher to a lower degree of virtue, 
from bringing forth sixty, to bring forth only thirty 
fold, it being so natural when we once begin to sink 
downwards, to fall lower and lower, till we fall head 
long down the precipice, so we must never think of 
standing still in the way of God, which would in ef 
fect be going backwards ; but as the apostle admon 
ishes, Philip, iii. 13, 14, forgetting the things that are 
behind, and stretching forth myself to those that are 
before, I pursue towards the mark, for the prize oj 
the supernal vocation of God hi Christ Jesus. 

In the next place she tells them, that in ordei to 


preserve and maintain the purity of their souls and 
bodies, they must exercise themselves in the mortifica 
tion of their sensual appetite, not only with regard to 
eating- and drinking, but also with respect to the 
guard they ought to keep upon their eyes, their ears, 
their tongue, <fec., lest the angels of darkness, who are 
the robbers and murderers that are always endeavor 
ing to do us as much mischief as they can, should 
steal into our soul by any avenue that, should be left 
unguarded : therefore she recommends a spirit of recol 
lection and retirement, and to have as little communi 
cation as possible with -the world ; for how, says she, 
can a house surrounded on all sides by smoke, escape 
being sullied and made black within, if the doors and 
windows are always open ? She adds, that they must, 
according to our Lord s prescription, be ever wise as 
serpents, and innocent as doves, wisely watching against 
all the deceits and assaults of the wicked one, who is 
ever besieging them within and without; and in all 
their actions keep close to God, by purity and simpli 
city, both in their intention and affection ; and that 
the arms they must continually make use of in this 
warfare, are the exercises of a spiritual life, more es 
pecially fasting and fervent prayer. 

She proceeds in the next place to treat of the ad 
vantages of voluntary poverty, and of quitting all 
things for Christ, by showing that nothing can be of 
greater service to a soul that has, by the exercise of 


other virtues, and the custom of mortifying herself in 
eating, drinking, hard lodging, &c. first to learn to be 
content with little, and cheerfully sacrifice her own 
will, inclinations, and pleasures to God ; for no sooner 
do we renounce the perishable goods of the earth, 
than we easily learn to turn our eyes towards heaven, 
to seek that hidden treasure which alone is able tc 
make us rich for eternity, in the happy possession of 
God himself. Oh ! what a shame, would she say, 
that we should not be ready to undergo all kinds of 
labors and sufferings for acquiring so invaluable a 
treasure, when we daily behold the children of this 
world expose themselves to far greater labors, suffer 
ings, and dangers, for the sake of a little worldly dirt. 
She also warns them against making a parade of 
their virtues, or publishing their good actions, by mak 
ing them the subject of their conversation with others ; 
for as a treasure that lies exposed to the public is 
quickly taken away and lost to its owner, so virtue 
presently fades and evaporates, when we make a show 
of it, or publish it to the world. Praise and applau&e 
are ever apt to weaken the vigor of the soul ; whilst 
on the other hand, it commonly receives an additional 
increase of strength from affronts, reproaches and in 
juries. She therefore exhorted them to rejoice under 
Bufferings, and endeavor, by prayer and spiritual cant 
icles, to banish sadness in general away from them as 
an enemy, that wholesome sorrow only excepted, 


\vkich is according to God, by which we grieve for 
havinor offended him. 


She goes on by strenuously recommending a con 
stant watchfulness over their hearts, that they be ever 
earful and diffident of their own strength, and neve 
think themselves secure in this life. Upon which oc 
casion she treats at large on the excellence and neces 
sity of self-knowledge and humility, and warns them 
against the pernicious consequences of pride, self-con 
ceit, and presumption, which she tells them are the 
most heinous of all sins, as well as against the pas 
sions of anger, resentment, remembrance of injuries, 
envy, and detraction, the daughters of pride, which 
being spiritual sins, frequently overlooked and neglect 
ed, are apt to leave mortal wounds behind them in 
the most noble parts of the soul ; wounds the more 
hard to be cured, as they are generally less appre 

The Saint also gave her spiritual daughters many 
other excellent lessons, inserted by the author of her 
life at large, who assures us, that what she taught 
them by words, she continually enforced by her ex 
ample ; and that no tongue was capable of expressing 
the spiritual advantages, that those who were so hap 
py as to hear her, received from her heavenly conver 
sation, and the incredible fruits which her instructions 
produced in many souls. 

Syncletica continued her regular exercises of devo* 


tt>fl and penance, advancing daily more and more in* 
trie iove of God, till she arrived at the age of fourscore 
yeHNs ; at which time our Lord was pleased to permit 
her u> be afflicted by the most violent interior pains 
and Diseases, joined with as horrible temptations as if 
Satan had obtained permission from God to put her 
patience to as severe a trial, and torment her as much 
as he did Job, with a complication of the most severe 
sufferings. She passed through this course of penance 
for tl*e space of three years and a half, with an incred 
ible patience and courage, to the great edification of 
all that approached her, to whom she ceased not to 
preacn both by word and example. Towards the 
lattei part of this time, a cancer in her mouth was 
added to the rest of her sufferings, which spread itself 
so far as to consume a great part of her face, and 
which, besides the pain and the insupportable stench 
it caused, prevented her from being able either to eat 
or to speak. In this condition she remained suffering, 
like a martyr, for the space of three months, support 
ed only by divine grace, till the end of her life ap 
proaching, she was favored with a rapt, or ecstacy, in 
which she beheld the glory and light of the heavenly 
mansions that were prepared for her, with troops of 
angels and holy virgins, who invited her to come and 
oin their happy company. Returning to herself, she 
tound herself able to give her last instructions to the 
virgins that surrounded her ; exhorting them particu- 


iarly to constancy, courage, and perseverance in their 
holy undertaking, and telling them, that within three 
days, at an hour which she named, she should be 
taken away from them. Accordingly when that hour 
arrived, her pure soul took its flight from this vale of 
tears, and went to take possession of the kingdom of 
her heavenly Bridegroom. Her name stands re 
corded in the Roman Martyrology on the fifth of 


From an ancient Greek Writer. 

THAIS was a native of Egypt, who being exceedingly 
beautiful, was so unhappy as to be betrayed and pros 
tituted by her own mother to infamy and sin. Hav 
ing followed a most wicked course of life for a long 
time, she, on account of her extraordinary beauty, be 
came the ruin of many, who spent their fortunes on 
hfcr, and frequently quarrelled so much about her, that 
murders were sometimes committed on her account. 
There happened to live at this time in a neighboring 
desert a holy abbot, called Paplmucius, who, on hear 
ing of the wretched life she led, and of the havoc 


which Satan by her means had made amongst the 
youth of that part of Egypt, became inspired with a 
desire to attempt her conversion. For this purpose, 
procuring a secular habit, and taking some money 
with him, he went to the place where she lived, and 
desiring to speak to her in private, was introduced by 
her into a chamber richly furnished. Having asked 
her if she had not some more retired apartment ? she 
replied she had : but added, what can you be afraid 
of ? for as for men, I assure you, no mortal can see us, 
or dare to come into the room where we are ; and as 
for God, he would equally see us wherever we went. 
" Oh ! " said he, " dost thou then believe there is a 
God, whose all-seeing eye is always upon us." " Yes, 
Sir," replied she, " I do believe there is an all-seeing 
God ; and what is more, I do believe there is a heaven, 
where the good shall be rewarded with never-ending 
bliss ; and also a hell, where the wicked shall be tor 
mented for all eternity." 

Paphnucius rejoicing interiorly to hear her make 
this profession of her faith began to represent to her 
the dismal state of her soul, and the dreadful account 
she must one day give for the souls of so many others 
whom she had seduced into sin, in so pathetic a man 
ner, and with such powerful unction of divine grace, 
that perceiving him to be a man of God, she cast her 
self at his feet, and poured forth torrents of tears, gave 
herself up to be directed by him, offering without a 


moment s delay, to undergo whatsoever penance he 
should think proper to appoint, and in what place he 
pleased ; hoping, as she said, that through his prayers 
God would show her mercy. Paphnucius having men 
tioned the place where she should come to him, depart 
ed, whilst she immediately prepared herself to follow 
him. But first gathering what she had acquired by 
sin, viz. all the rich presents of her lovers, together ii/ 
one heap, she made a bonfire of them in the midst oi 
the street, in the sight of all the people, and of those 
who had been accomplices in her crimes, declaring 
publicly an abhorrence of every thing that contributed 
to detain her in that way of life. Having made tin? 
first sacrifice, she repaired to the place appointed by 
Paphnucius, who conducted her from thence to a mon 
astery of nuns, where he shut her up in a cell by herself, 
and stopped up the door, leaving only a small aperture, 
or window, to which he desired the sisters to convey 
to her a little bread and water every day, which was to 
be her whole allowance for the remainder of her life. 
Before he departed from her, she asked him what 
prayers he would recommend to her, and in wha 
manner he would have her address herself to God ii 
prayer \ " Thou art not worthy," said he, " either tc 
invoke the sacred name of God with thy polluted lips 
nor to stretch forth thy hands, or lift up thy eyes to 
wards heaven, after so many abominations ; let it suf 
fice then for thee to sit turned towards the East, ana 


frequently to repeat these words : Thou that hast 
made me, have mercy on me." 

She continued this course of penance, in her solitary 
enclosure, for the space of three years, till at length 
Paphnucius, having compassion on her, went to con* 
suit the great St. Antony, at that time the oracle of 
Egypt, to learn whether God had accepted her penance 
and pardoned her sins. St. Antony having assembled 
his disciples together, and exhorted them to pray that 
God would be pleased to let them know what Paph 
nucius so earnestly required. St. Paul the Simple saw 
.hat very night in a vision, a glorious throne, or bed 
of state, in heaven, surrounded by three virgins, glit 
tering with beams of heavenly light ; and whilst he 
was thinking within himself that this throne could be 
designed for no other than St. Antony, he was an 
swered by a voice : " It is not for thy father Antony, 
but for Thais the harlot." This vision being notified 
to Paphnucius, he concluded it was the will of God 
that Thais should be released from her confinement, 
and therefore let her out, whilst she, on her part de 
sired to remain where she was, but at length humbly 
submitted to the will of her holy director. Having 
told her that God had forgiven her sins, she assured 
him, that from the time she first entered into her cell, 
she had collected them together as it were into one 
heap, and placing them before her eyes, never ceased 
to think on and bewail them. 


" It is on beholding your contrition," said Paphnn- 
cius, "that God has shown you mercy, and not on 
account of the rigor of your penance." She lived no 
longer than fifteen days after she had been released 
from her penitential enclosure, when she was called 
to see the good things of our Lord in the land oj 
the living. 


From her Lifa by James the Deacon, her Cotem- 

PELAGIA was a famous actress in the city of Antioch, 
^t that time the capital of Syria, and of the whole 
East. Her extraordinary beauty drew many lovers 
after her, and so unhappy was she as to yield herself 
up to a very sinful course of life, without the least re 
straint, although she professed herself a Christian, and 
had been formerly admitted into the number of Cate 
chumens who were under instruction for baptism, but 
had now left off her attendance at church for that 
purpose. It happened at this time, viz. about, the be 
ginning of the fifth century, that several bishops, and 
others of the clergy, were assembled at Antioch upon 
some ecclesiastical affairs ; amongst whom was the 
holy prelate Nonnus, who, from a monk of the nion- 


Bstery of Tabenna, was, on account of his admirable 
virtue and wisdom, raised to the see of Heliopolis. 
Th^se prelates were .oxlged in the neighborhood of 
the church of St. Julian the martyr, where they met 
together to treat upon the business that had called 
them to Antioch. One day, whilst they were sitting 
before the church with St. Nonnus, who was then en 
tertaining them with a spiritual conference, to their 
great edification, Pelagia passed before them in great 
pomp, decked with gold, pearls, and precious stones, 
accompanied by a numerous train of young men and 
women. Her beauty with the lustre of her jewels, 
and her rich attire, drew the eyes of all the fond ad 
mirers of these empty toys upon her; but whilst the 
prelates turned away their faces aside, because having 
no veil over her head, and her very shoulders being 
uncovered, they were offended at the immodesty of 
her dress, Nonnus only seemed to take notice of her, 
and to consider her with great attention. After she 
had passed by, turning to his fellow-bishops, he said 
to them, with many sighs and tears : " I fear God will 
one day bring this woman to confront us before the 
throne of his justice, in order to condemn our negli 
gence and tepidity in his service, and in the discharge 
of our duty to the flock he has committed to OUT 
care. For how many hours do you think she has em 
ployed this very day in her chamber in washing and 
eleaning herself, in dressing, adorning, and embellish- 


ing her whole person to the best advantage, with a 
view to exhibit her beauty to please the eyes of the 
world, and particularly her" unhappy lovers, who, 
though alive to-day, may possibly be dead to-mor 
row ? Whereas we, who have an Almighty Father, 
an immortal Spouse, in heaven, to whose love and ser 
vice we have consecrated ourselves; we, to whom 
the immense and eternal treasures of heaven are 
promised as the reward of our short labors upon 
earth, are far from taking as much pains to wash and 
purify our souls from their stains, and procure for 
them those bright ornaments of virtue and sanctity, 
which alone can render them truly agreeable in the 
eyes of God." Having spoken to this effect, he rose 
up and returned home, where, prostrating himself on 
the floor, he bitterly lamented his misery, in having 
buffered himself to be thus outdone by a sinful woman, 
and implored the divine mercy for the forgiveness of 
his negligence and tepidity. 

The next day being Sunday, all the bishops assem 
bled in the great church where the patriarch of Anti- 
och celebrated mass. After the gospel was read, he 
presented the book to St. Nonnus, and desired him to 
make an exhortation to the people. The holy prelate 
obeyed, and made a most pathetic discourse, full of 
the unction of the spirit of God, on the subject of the 
ast judgment, and of the world to come, which drew 
tears from the 3yes of the whole auditory, amongst 


whom was Pelagia, who had not been within a church 
for a long time before, and h^s sermon made so deep 
an impression on her soul, that she could not refrain 
the whole time from sighing, and sobbing, and pour 
ing out floods of tears, through the deep sense she con 
ceived of her sins. As soon as the divine service was 
over, she sent a letter to the holy prelate to this effect. 

To the holy disciple of Jesus Christ, from a sinful 

wretch, a scholar of the devil. 
I have learnt that the God whom you worship came 
down from heaven to the earth, riot for the sake of the 
just, but to save poor sinners, and that he humbled 
himself so far as to suffer publicans to come to him, 
and did not disdain to speak with the sinful Samaritan 
woman at the well ; wherefore, as I understand, that 
though you never have seen him with your mortal 
eyes, you are nevertheless a follower of his, and have 
served him faithfully for many years, I conjure you, 
for his sake, to show yourself to be his true disciple, 
by suffering a poor sinner to come to you, and not 
despise the extreme desire I have to approach to him 
through your assistance." The Saint sent her word, 
that if she was sincere in her desires of instruction and 
conversion, she might come to him to the church o. 
Julian, where he would speak to her in the presence 
of the other bishops, not thinking it proper to converse 
with her in private. 


No sooner had Pelagia received this permission than 
she ran with all possible speed to the church, and cast 
herself at the feet of the holy prelate, earnestly be 
seeching him through the example of his great Mas 
ter, to receive the worst of sinners, and cleanse her 
from the filth and abomination of her crimes, in the 
founta n of baptism. The Saint told her, that by the 
discipline of the Church, persons who like her had 
been a long time engaged in criminal habits, could 
not be admitted to baptism without first producing 
proper sureties who should answer for her returning 
no more to their sinful ways ; but she not being able 
to bear the enormous weight of her sins, or to con 
tinue any longer contaminated by their filth, would 
hear of no delay, wherefore embracing the feet of the 
servant of God, and washing them with floods of tears, 
she conjured them to baptize her upon the spot, in 
order to a new life, that she might instantly be pre 
sented without spot or blemish to Jesus Christ : this 
petition she urged with so much fervor, such demon- 
etrations of a lively faith, and so ardent a desire of 
saving her soul, that the prelates were unanimously 
of opinion, that as the hand of God manifested itself 
in her favor in so extraordinary a manner, her request 
ought to be admitted. They therefore sent to ac 
quaint the patriarch with all that had passed, who 
approving of her being baptized, sent the lady Roma- 
pa, the chief of the widows that were in the service of 


the great church, to attend her as godmother on the 
occasion. This good lady found her still bewailing 
her sins at the feet of the Saint, from which she could 
not be prevailed to remove, till he commanded her to 
rise, in order to proceed to the exorcisms and prayets 
as used by the Church before baptism. After making 
a public confession and detestation of all her crimes, 
he baptized her ; and then, according to the custom of 
the Church in those days, administered to her the sacra 
ments of confirmation and of the body of our Lord. 
The same day, as our author relates, who being 
deacon to St. Nonnus was himself present, whilst the 
holy bishop and he sat at table together, rejoicing with 
the angels upon the conversion of so great a sinner, 
they heard distinctly before the door a voice as of one 
bitterly complaining in these or the like words : 
"Alas! alas! must I be continually tormented by 
thee in this manner ? Not satisfied with having rob 
bed me heretofore of no less than thirty thousand 
souls of the nation of the Saracens, which thou hast 
presented to thy God ; not content to have also snatch 
ed the city of Heliopolis out of my hands, where all 
the people worshipped me, must thou also bereave me 
of the greatest hope I had left ? or dost thou think I 
can any longer bear with thee, or support the perse- 
secutions thou makest me suffer ? " In this manner 
did Satan express his grief At the loss of his prey, and 
his rage against the holy prelate, who took no 


of him, but armed his convert against all the effort* 
and temptations of this e.nemy, and taught her to drive 
him away by a confidence in her Saviour, and the 
sign of his cross. 

The third day after baptism, Pelagia having taken 
an inventory of all her plate, jewels, rich clothes, and 
other goods, put it into the hands of St. Nonnus, say 
ing : " My Lord, here is the whole of the goods I have 
acquired from the devil ; I give them all up to your 
disposal ; give such orders concerning them as you 
judgQ to be for the best. As to my part, I desire no 
riches for the time to come but those of my Saviour 
Jesus Christ." The holy prelate sent immediately for 
the treasurer of the church, and delivering the inven 
tory into his hands, charged him, as he would answer 
for it before God, not to apply any part of her goods 
either to the service of the bishop or the church, but 
to distribute the whole to poor widows and orphans, 
and such like objects ; that as they had been ill got 
ten, they might now at least be well applied. On 
the same day Pelagia set all her slaves, both men and 
women at liberty, earnestly exhorting them, at the 
same time, to shake off that yoke of servitude by which 
they had, as well as herself, been slaves to a corrupt 
and sinful world ; that passing over with her to the 
true liberty of the children of God, they might one day 
arrive with her at the enjoyment of that true and 
eternal lh ? e which knows neither sin nor sorrow. 


On the eighth day, when those that had been bap 
tized, according to the ancient custom of the Church, 
put off the white garment they received at their bap< 
tism, Pelagia rising privately in the night, exchanged 
her baptismal robe for a habit of haircloth, and an old 
nantle which she had received from St. Nonnus, and 
without communicating her design to any one but him, 
she withdrew from Antioch, and going into the Holy 
Land, took up her habitation for life in a narrow cell 
upon mount Olivet, where she lived as an anchoret, 
shut up in such a manner as to have only a small 
window through which she might receive the neces 
saries of life, and spending her whole time with our 
Lord in fasting and prayer. The other religious in 
habitants of this holy mountain were so perfectly igno 
rant who she was, as not even to know whether she 
*vas a woman, so effectually had she concealed her sex, 
calling herself by the name of Pelagius ; but they all 
admired the great abstraction, austerity, and sanctity 
of her life. 

Some years after this, our author, James the dea 
con, made a pilgrimage of devotion to visit the .sepul 
chre of our Lord at Jerusalem. Upon this occasion 
his holy bishop recommended to him to inquire afte? 
.a servant of God named Pelagius, that led an ancho- 
rctical life upon mount Olivet. He executed his com 
mission, little thinking that this anchoret was the fa- 
aious Pelagia whrm he had seen baptized, and who 


presently after disappeared and was no more heard of. 
But though he readily found out the cell, by inquir 
ing of the religious who dwelt in the neighborhood, 
and went and spoke to her through the window, yet 
being much altered by her austerities, he knew her 
not. He told her he came by the desire of Bishop 
Nonnus to inquire after her. Nonnus, said she, is a 
great Saint, and I beg that he will pray for me 
With that she shut the window and began to sing 
Tierce, or the third hour of the divine office, whilst 
the deacon was praying without, much comforted with 
having seen so holy a person. Afterwards visiting the 
monasteries round about, and finding that all the ser 
vants of God, wherever he came, conspired in giving 
testimony to the wonderful sanctity of Pelagius, he 
resolved to return and visit this holy anchoret once 
more before he left the country, in order to receive 
Home wholesome instruction from him. When he 
came to her cell and knocked at the window, no one 
opened it to him, and when he called no one answer 
ed ; so that having continued for some time knock 
ing and calling aloud, he began to think the anchoret 
was gone away. At length having forced open the 
window, he looked in and perceived the Saint to be 
dead. Having conveyed the news of her death to the 
neighboring religious, they immediately came, and 

O * 

opening the cell took out the body, in order to its be 
ing interred with all the honor due to so great a ser 


vnnt of God. The secret of her sex being now dis 
covered and noised abroad, all the holy virgins that 
dwelt in the monasteries of Jericho and on the bankr. 
of the Jordan, in the place where our Lord was bap 
tized, came out with lighted tapers in their hands, sing- 
ng hymns and psalms, to meet the corpse of the 
Saint, which they conducted to their church, and there 
deposited it as a rich treasure. 

Her name is recorded in the Roman Martyrology 
on the eighth of October, and the name of St. Non- 
nus on the second of December. 


From her Life, -Britten by St. Soplironius, Patriarch 
of Jerusalem. 

THERE was in a monastery of Palestine, a holy priest 
named Zosimus, who had from his childhood dedi 
cated himself to the love of God, and spent fifty-threa 
years in that community in the ex seises of a monastic 
life, with such perfection as to be respected and ad 
mired by all who knew him. This good father being 
one day tempted with a thought that nothing more 
was now wanting in him, and that he had already ar 
rived, as ha imagined, at the top of the hill of relig* 


ious perfection, was admonished by one appearing to 
him in the shape of a man, of his error, and directed 
by this messenger of heaven to another monastery 
more remote from all conversation with the world, 
situated in a solitary place on the banks of the river 
Jordan, in order to learn still higher lessons in the 
school of religion. In this place he found a company 
of angels rather than men, so great was their fervor in 
all that related to the service of God. They sang his 
divine praises every hour of the night ; and in the day, 
whilst their hands were employed in manual labor, the 
psalms were always in their mouths and hearts. Here 
was no room for any unprofitable conversation, having 
made it their whole business not only absolutely to 
forget the world, but even every thing in the world, 
and to live as men quite dead to all things but the 
one thing necessary. Their thoughts were continually 
occupied on heavenly truths ; the emptiness and van 
ity of all such things as pass away with time, and the 
greatness of things eternal, were the subjects of their 
constant meditation. Their greatest dainties for their 
corporal sustenance were bread and water, whilst their 
souls continually feasted on the word of God and 

It was the custom of these religious every year on 
the first Sunday of Lent, after assisting at the divine 
mysteries, and receiving the precious body and blood 
of our Lord, to go forth into the vast wilderness be- 


fond the river, there to spend that holy sea&on in per 
fect solitude. They eat but very seldom, and then 
only a few figs or dates, which they carried, or such 
herbs as grew wild in the desert, frequently singing 
psalms, and praying without ceasing. After spending 
the greatest part of Lent in this manner, they all re 
turned back again to the monastery, to celebrate the 
passion and resurrection of our Lord, contriving always 
to meet there against Palm-Sunday. The holy man, 
Zosimus, according to the custom of the others, when 
Lent came, crossed the river, designing to penetrate as 
far as he could into the heart of the desert, in hopes, 
as he afterwards said, of meeting with some Saint from 
whom he might receive instruction and edification. 
He took with him but slender provisions, and never 
eat but when necessity compelled him. When night 
found him. there he lay down on the ground to take 
a little rest ; and as soon as the daylight permitted, 
he hastened forward, as if he had been making the 
best of his way towards some person of his acquaint 
ance, halting only at certain times of the day, to sing 
some psalms standing, and to spend some time in 
prayer on his knees. 

He continued his journey after this manner till 
about mid-lent, when one day stopping at the sixth 
hour, and performing his usual prayers, turned to 
wards the East, he perceived on his right the shadow, 
as it were, of a human body ; } \\t when he had fin 

396 8T. MARY OP EOTl T. 

ished his devotion, turning his eyes that way he plait 
ly saw a person walking hastily towards the West x 
whose naked body had grown quite black with the 
heat of the sun, and whose hair was turned white as 
wool. Upon this sight Zosimus was overjoyed, hoping 
he had now found what he sought, and therefore ho 
began to run with all his strength, in order to over 
take the person whom he perceived to fly from him, 
and through his earnest desire of coming up to her, 
he continually gained ground of her, till coming with 
in hearing, he cried out, " Servant of God, why dost 
thou fly from a sinner, and a poor old man ? Who 
ever thou art, I conjure thee, by that God, for whose 
sake thou spendest thy days in this frightful desert, to 
let me come near thee. I beg of thee to stop a little, 
and not to refuse thy blessing and prayers to one who 
entreats thee in the name of that God who has never 
cast off any man that desired to come to him." 
Whilst he was thus calling after her, she arrived at a 
place that had been made hollow by the water of * 
torrent, but which was now dried up ; and when she 
had passed over to the other side, whither he not 
being able to follow her, she cried, " Father Zosimus, 
I beseech you, for God s sake, excuse my turning 
about to speak to you, because I am a woman and 
quite naked ; but if you are willing to favor a poor 
winner with your blessing, fling over your mantle that 


I may cover myself with it, and then turn towards 
you and receive your benediction." 

The holy man, struck with astonishment to hear 
her call him by his name, which he was convinced she 
2ould not know but by revelation, readily complied 
with her desire, and threw his mantle over, turning 
hi 3 back towards her till she had covered herself 
therewith ; which when she had done, she asked him, 
what had brought him so far to see such a wretched 
sinner as she was ? or what could he expect to know 
or learn from her ? Having already conceived a high 
opinion of her sanctity, he instead of answering her, 
prostrated himself upon the ground, and according to 
the custom of the religious when they visited one 
another, craved her blessing. No, father, said she, fall 
ing down upon her face, it is your part to bless and to 
pray for me,, since you are a priest, and having for so 
many years served the altar, are admitted to a greater 
grace and light of God, and to the sacred mysteries 
of Jesus Christ. The amazement of Zosimus was in 
conceivable when he heard her speak of his being a 
priest, and therefore venerating the spirit of God 
within her, insisted the more upon her giving him her 
blessing first ; nor would he rise from the ground till 
she had so far condescended as to bless him in the fol 
lowing manner : " Blessed be the Lord, that worketh 
the salvatian of souls ; " to which he answered, Amen. 
When they both rose up, she began to inquire concern- 



ing the state of Christendom ; whether the Church 
enjoyed peace ; and how the faithful behaved in 
their respective stations? Zosimus answered, that 
God had doubtless heard her prayers and granted 
peace to the Church ; but, added he, I beseech you, 
in his name, not to refuse a poor unworthy monk the 
comfort he asks for the love of Jesus Christ ; which is, 
that you would offer up your prayers to him for tho 
world in general, and for me, a poor sinner, in partic 
ular, that the long and painful journey I have taken 
through this vast wilderness may not prove uprofita- 
ble to me. She replied, that it belonged rather to his 
function to pray both for her and the world ; however, 
us obedience was a duty incumbent on her, should 
comply with his command. 

Then turning towards the East, with hands and 
eyes lifted up to heaven, she prayed for a long time 
in silence, whilst Zosimus stood without saying a word 
with his eyes cast down on the ground. But finding 
that she continued very long in her prayer, he looked 
up a little, and saw that she was raised a cubit from 
the earth, and prayed in that manner suspended in the 
air, for the truth of which he afterwards called God to 
witness. This sight filled his soul with so much sur 
prise and apprehension, that he cast himself upon the 
ground bathed in a sweat, crying out, Lord have mercy 
upon me. His amazement was succeeded by a thought, 
that perhaps all he had seen might be an illusion, and 


that this appearance of a woman might be some evil 
spirit that only pretended to pray. In the mean time 
she turned towards him, and answering this thought 
which he had conceived of her, she assured him she 
was no spirit, but a poor sinful woman, composed of 
Mesh and blood, dirt and corruption, adding that she 
had been baptized and was a Christian ; in testimony 
whereof, making the sign of the cross upon her fore 
head, her eyes, her lips, and her stomach, she said, 
" God deliver us, father, from the evil spirit, and from 
all his snares and suggestions ; for we know that he 
bears us an implacable hatred." 

Hereupon Zosimus entreated her to tell him whc 
she was, whence she came, when, and why she re 
tired into this desert; and, in a word, all that con 
cerned her life since she came thither, as well for the 
glory of God as for his instruction and edification, not 
doubting, as he told her, but that God had brought 
him into that desert, and enabled him, notwithstand 
ing his great age and weakness, to make so long a 
journey in so short a space of time, with no other de 
sign than that the wonders which his divine grace had 
wrought in her might be made manifest to the greater 
glory of his name. He added, that she need not ap 
prehend any vain-glory in the recital of her life, since 
her motive would be no other than the glory of God 
and the comfort and instruction of a poor sinner 
She answered, that with respect to her life, there was 


indeed no room for her taking any vanity in the relat 
ing the history of it, since she had been a vessel of 
election, not of God, but of the devil; that she was 
even ready to die with shame and confusion to think 
of declaring all her infamous crimes, and that she ap- 
l/ivhended he would fly from her as from a serpent 
when he began to hear her history. However, she 
was resolved to be quite sincere with him, and to 
declare the particulars of her infamous life, in hopes 
that he wo"ld never cease to pray to God that she 
might find mercy at the last day. 

Here she began to relate the history of her life, say 
ing, that she was a native of Egypt, and had run away 
from her parents when she was but twelve years old, 
and went to Alexandria, where, falling into bad CODI- 
pany, she quickly lost her honor, and afterwards aban- 
Joned herself to all kinds of lewdness, as a public 
prostitute, for the space of seventeen years. That at 
the end of this time, seeing a great many persons flock 
towards the sea-shore in order to embark for the Holy 
Land, to celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the 
Cross in Jerusalem, she had impudently thrust herself 
into their company ; and both during the voyage and 
after her arrival at Jerusalem had made herself the 
devil s instrument, introducing many into a partner 
ship in her abominations. That when the day of the 
feast was come, she attempted to enter with the rest 
of the faithful into the church of the Holy Cross, but 


was repulsed by an invisible power ; and though slw 
saw all the people about her go in with ease, and had 
striven on her part with all her might to enter in along 
with them, yet she could never advance further than 
the threshold, but always found herself still thrust 
back again into the portico. " This happening to me," 
said she, "three or four times, I began to consider 
what might be the reason that I was thus debarred 
the sight of the life-giving wood of the holy cross, 
when a salutary thought striking my mind, and open 
ing the eyes of my soul, I concluded that it was the 
filthiness of my life that prevented me from entering 
the temple of God. Then bathed in tears and in the 
utmost consternation of mind, I knocked my breast, 
and sighing ready to break my heart, I cried, lament 
ed and mourned at my wretched condition, till at 
length perceiving over my head in the place where I 
stood the image of the holy mother of God, I imme 
diately addressed myself to her, and with my eyes 
steadfastly fixed on her picture, I said, O sacred virgin, 
who hast brought forth God according to the flesh, I 
acknowledge myself unworthy to venerate or even to 
look at thy image with eyes so much denied by vn 
cleanness as mine have been. As thou art a pure un 
spotted virgin both in soul and body, it is but just that 
thy incomparable beauty should abominate, and drive 
away from thee so filthy a creature as I am : never 
theless, having been taught that the God whom thou 


wast worthy to bring forth was made man, in order in 
call sinners to repentance, I beseech thee to assist me, 
who am here left alone destitute of all assistance. O 
receive the confession I here make of my sins, and per 
mit me to enter into the church, that I may not be so 
unhappy as to be deprived of the sight of that pre 
cious wood to which that God-man was fastened, who 
was born of thee, without any prejudice to thy virgini 
ty, and on which he spilt his blood for my redemption. 
Ordain, blessed Lady, that the door may be open 
unto me, though most unworthy, that [ may" salute 
that divine cross ; and be thou responsible to Christ 
thy Son, that I shall never more defile myself with any 
of my former detestable uncleannesses, whilst I, for my 
part, as soon as I shall have seen the tree on which 
thy son vouchsafed to die, promise absolutely to re 
nounce the world with all its wicked ways, and to de 
part immediately to the place to which thou, my sure 
ty and my guide, shall be pleased to conduct me." 
So far her prayer to the blessed Virgin. 

Then proceeding to her narrative, she declared that 
after having made this prayer and promise, on attempt 
ing again to enter into the church she found no man 
ner of obstacle, but went in with the utmost ease, and 
penetrated, notwithstanding the great crowd, as far as 
the sanctuary, and there had the happiness not only 
to ses and venerate the precious and life-giving wood, 
consecrate! with the blood of our Redeemer, but also 

ST. MARY OF EGYPT. 403 be sensibly affected with the experience she now felt 
of the inconceivable excess of God s mercy in his read 
iness to forgive penitent sinners. Full of these senti 
ments she prostrated herself upon the ground, and 
having kissed the sacred pavement of the sanctuary, 
ehe then ran out to the place where she had made her 
solemn promise to the blessed Virgin, where kneeling 
down before her image, after giving thanks for the 
goodness and charity she had already experienced, she 
offered herself ready to fulfill the promise she had 
made" and begged of our blessed Lady to direct her 
now to the place to which she would have her to go to 
do penance for her sins. Upon which she heard a 
voice as of one crying out at a distance : Go beyond 
the Jordan, and there thou shalt find rest. Conceiv 
ing these words addressed to herself, and begging of 
our blessed Lady not to forsake her, she arose in haste 
to follow this call. As she was going she met with a 
stranger, who gave her three pieces of money, with 
which she immediately went and bought three loaves ; 
and having inquired of the baker the way that led to 
the river Jordan, she set forward immediately without 
stopping, till she arrived at the church of St. John the 
Baptist upon the banks of the river. Here she per 
formed her devotions, and received the blessed sacra 
ment ; eating during her short stay there the half of 
cue of her loaves, drinking of the water of the river< 
and using no other bed but the bare ground. On the 


morning after her communion she passed over to the 
other side of the river : " and then," continued she, 
" having again prayed to the blessed Virgin, my guide, 
to conduct, me to whatever place she pleased, I came 
into this desert, and from that time to this day, which 
I compute to be seven and forty years, I have, accord 
ing to the psalmist, gene far off flying away from 
all company, and I abode in the wilderness, Ps. 54, 
looking for the mercy of my God, who saves both lit 
tle and great who are converted to him." 

Zosimus then inquired what she had lived upon all 
that time ? She answered, that the two loaves and a 
half which she had brought with her were for a long 
time her only food, though they soon grew as hard as 
stones, so that she could eat but very little of them at 
a time, and that after they were consumed she lived 
upon what few herbs she could find in the desert. 
That as for clothes, those which she had brought over 
with her being quite worn out, she had been without 
any for the greatest part of the time, and had labored 
under inexpressible difficulties for the want of them, 
being broiled with excessive heat in the summer, and 
Buffering the extremity of cold in the winter ; but that 
under all these hardships and necessities, together with a 
multitude and variety of temptations which she had to 
struggle with, she continued to experience to that very 
day the power and the goodness of God in the various 
vs whereby he had still preserved her poor soul and 


body. So that when she called to mind from how 
many evils the Lord had delivered her, she felt herself 
nourished and supported with a never-failing food, and 
found a banquet which satisfied her whole appetite IP 
the hopes she entertained of her eternal salvation. 

Zosimus desiring also to learn more particulars from 
her with relation to the conflicts she must have sus 
tained, more especially upon her first entering on this 
new kind of life, she acknowledged that for the first 
seventeen years she was in a manner under perpetual 
temptations; that she suffered much from hunger 
and thirst, and was frequently attacked with vehement 
desires of returning to partake of the flesh-pots of 
Egypt ; that she longed for wine which she formerly 
loved and drank to excess, whereas now she could not 
even come at a drop of water; that the lascivious 
songs she had formerly been accustomed to sing wero 
often recurring to her mind, and other impure sugges 
tions disturbing her soul and violently moving her to 
lust ; but that upon perceiving any of these assaults, 
it was her custom to strike her breast, shed many tears, 
and remembering the solemn engagement she had 
made before she came into the wilderness, to place 
herself in spirit before the image of the blessed Virgin, 
horn had desired to be her surety, and ceased 
not to weep and lament, and to beg of her protectress 
to drive away from her those wicked thoughts which 
troubled her poor soul, till after long and earnest 


prayer, accompanied with floods of tears, and with the 
bruising of her body with blows, she used to perceive 
a light to shine round about her, and a heavenly calm 
restored to her soul. "Thus," continued she, "I had 
always the eyes of my heart lifted up without ceasing 
to her that was my surety, beseeching her to stand l>y 
me in my solitude and penance ; and I always expe 
rienced the help and assistance of her who brought 
forth the Author of all purity, and so I passed safely 
through the many conflicts and dangers of those sev 
enteen years ; and from that time till now, the blessed 
mother of God has never forsaken me, but always, 
and in all things, has assisted and directed me." 

Zosimus hearkened with great attention to all that 
she said, and taking notice that she had in her relation 
of her life made use of passages taken out of the psalms 
and other parts of the scripture, he asked her if she had 
ever learnt the psalms, or read any part of the holy 
scripture ? She told him she could not read, nor had 
even so much as ever heard any person read or sing the 
psalms, or ever seen either man or beast from her com 
ing into the desert till that day. " But," said she, " the 
Word of God, which is living and effectual, interiorly 
teaches the understanding of man ; wherefore, as you 
havs now heard all that relates to me, I conjure you 
by the incarnation of the Eternal Word, to pray for 
oie, who, as you see, have been so vile a sinner." 

When she had finished her narrative, Zosimus cast 


himself on his kness, and with a loud voice magnified 
the Lord for the wonders of his goodness and mercy 
to those who fear and seek him ; whilst she, on her 
part, begged of him, for the sake of our Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ, not to speak of the things sho 
had related to him to any one living, till God should 
deliver her out of the prison of the body : and, said 
she, " about this time twelvemonth, by God s grace, 
you shall again see me ; I beg of you therefore, for 
our Lord s sake, that when the holy time of Lent shall 
return next year, you would not come over the Jor 
dan, according to the custom of your monastery, but 
remain at home during that time (but indeed you 
shall not be able to go out, if you would) and on the 
most sacred evening of our Lord s last supper, bring 
out for me, in a holy vessel worthy of so great a mys 
tery, the divine body and life-giving blood of our 
Saviour, and wait for me on that side of the river 
which you inhabit, and I shall come and receive those 
precious gifts that are the life of the soul, at the very 
hour in which our Lord imparted that divine supper 
to his disciples." Having said this, and once more 
begged the holy father to pray for her, she hastened 
away into the remoter parts of the wilderness : whilst 
Zosimus, after casting himself down upon the ground, 
and kissing the earth upon which she had stood, re 
turned through the desert the same way he came, and 
arrived in due time at the monastery. 


During the following year he kept all that he had 
Keen and heard a secret to himself, longing for the re 
turn of Lent, that, he might be once more blessed 
with the sight and conversation of one whom he just 
ly Ikeld in the highest veneraticn. But when the 
holy fast of Lent was come, he was visited with a 
fever, which as the Saint had foretold, was attended 
by no other consequence than that of preventing him 
from going abroad into the desert with the rest of tho 
brethren ; wherefore, on Maunday-Thursday evening 
in compliance with her desire, he carried out the body 
and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in a small pix or 
chalice, to the bank of the river, and there waited, 
looking attentively towards the desert, in expectation 
of what he had so great a desire of seeing, but not 
without some apprehension, as it was a long time be 
fore she came, that slio might have been there already, 
and not finding him had returned back again. Another 
perplexing thought also occurred to his mind, viz. 
how in case of her coming, she should be able to pass 
over the river to him, as there was neither bridge nor 
boat near that place. Whilst the holy old man was 
revolvh. these difficulties in his mind, he discovered 
the Saint on the opposite bank of the Jordan, by the 
light of the moon, which was then at the full, and 
saw her making the sign of the cross upoc the river, 
and presently after walking towards him upon the 
water, as if it had been firm ground, with which sight 


he was so much astonished, that he was going to cast 
himself upon his knees, had she not stopped him by 
crying out " Father, what are you about ? Recol 
lect you are a priest of God, and that you carry with 
fou the divine mysteries." 

Having now passed over the river, she craved hir 
blessing, and after desiring him to recite the creed and 
the Lord s prayer, she received the blessed sacrament 
from his hands ; after which, lifting up her hands to 
heaven, sighing and weeping, she cried out : Now 
dost thou dismiss thy servant, Lord, according to 
thy word, in peace j because my eyes have seen thy sal 
vation. Then turning to Zosimus, she begged pardon 
for the trouble she had given him, and requested ho. 
would for the present return to the monastery, but on 
the following Lent he would not fail to come to the 
place where she had first spoken to him, and that 
there he should see her again in the manner God 
should be pleased to ordain. The good old man de 
sired her to eat something, having brought a basket of 
figs and dates, with some lentiles steeped in water, 
with him for that purpose. She took a few grains of 
the lentiles, saying she had no occasion for any more ; 
for that the 1 grace of the spirit was sufficient to pre 
serve the soul in its purity. Then begging of him 
again for God s sake to pray for her, and never to for 
get her miseries, whilst he, on his part, recommended 
himself and the whole church to her prayers, she took 



leave of him, and making the sign of the cross upon 
the river, crossed it again in the same manner as she 
came to him, walking upon the waters. 

The next year Zosirnus going out in Lent, i<xordiu 
to the custom of the monastery, into the desert, made 
the best of his way towards the place where hs had 
first seen the Saint, in hopes of being still more edified 
by her si^ht and heavenly conversation, and of learn 
ing also her name, which he regretted not having in 
quired after when he last saw her. After a long and 
painful journey, when he arrived at the dry torrent, 
he found in the higher part of that concavity the dead 
body of the Saint extended decently on the ground, 
with her hands crossed, and her face turned towards 
the east. Hereupon he fell down at the feet of the 
holy corpse, which he washed with his tears, and then 
began to sing the psalms and recite the prayers for 
the burial of the dead, when behold he perceived on 
the ground these words written in the sand : " Father 
Zosimus, bury the body of poor Mary ; render to tlu j 
earth what belongs to the earth ; and in the name of 
God pray for me on the ninth day of April, the day 
cf the passion of our Lord, after the communion of the 
divine supper." * The old man, reading these words, 
could not conceive by whom they were wrote, as the 

* The anniversary of her happy death, viz. the day immedi 
ately following that on which Zosimus had, the year before, 
administered to her tht blessed e acharist. 


Saint bad assured him she could neither read nor 
write. He was however not only pleased to have 
found out her name, but also astonished to think how 
quickly she had been brought back in the space o 
one night after receiving the holy communion, over 
as large a tract of ground as had taken him twenty 
days travelling without ceasing. Hence it appears 
that after her return her blessed soul had left her body, 
and taken its flight to heaven. 

But now his greatest solicitude was how he should 
contrive to bury her body, as he had no proper instru 
ment to open the earth, or dig a grave. But he was 
not long under this perplexity before he perceived a 
great lion standing by the body of the Saint, and lick 
ing her feet. To recover himself from the terror ex 
cited by the sight of so tremendous an animal, he 
made the sign of the cross, trusting that God and her 
holy body would protect him from all dangers, when 
behold he found the lion began to fawn upon him, as 
if he proffered him his service ! So that being con 
vinced that God had sent the beast to make a grave 
lor his servant, he commanded him in the name of 
<tod to set about that work with his claws. The lion 
obeyed, and presently made a sufficient grave, in which 
/osiinus interred the body of the Saint, covering it 
only with the mantle she had received of him, and 
with many tears, having recommended both hinisel 
and the whole world to her prayers, he departed prais- 

412 ST. JEROME. 

ing God. whilst the lion, like a, tame lamb, went his 
way into the remoter parts of the desert. Zosimas, 
at his return home, related to his brethren the whole 
history of the life of the Saint from the beginning, to 
their great edincation, concealing no part of what he 
had seen or heard. After which he still continued 
serving and glorifying God in that monastery, till he 
was a hundred years old, with such perfection as to be 
enrolled after his death amongst the Saints. Hu 
name occurs in the Roman Martyrology on the fourth 
of April, and that of St. Mary of Egypt on the second 
of the same month. 


WE are about to record the monastic life of St. 
Jerome without entering into the detail of his other 
works, which might be foreign to our subject. Not 
withstanding that he is one of the greatest doctors of 
the Church, we shall here consider him only as a Soli 
tary, lie was born at Stridon, in Dalmatia, about 
the year 329, but he made his principal studies in 
Rome, under the famous Donatus, the grammarian. 
After having been baptized, he travelled into France, 
utopped some time at Treves, and came to Aquilea in 

8T JEROME. 413 

Gaui, where ho made the acquaintance of St. Vale 
rian, bishop of that city, together with many other 
excellent persons. 

His extreme love for study had been strikingly man 
ifested in Rome by the progress he made, and it was 
with a view to perfect himself still more that he jour- 
nied into Gaul. His great application had not only 
served to enrich his mind with an extensive knowledge 
of literature, but it had also been the means of keep 
ing him aloof from those occasions of sin, wherein 
young persons are so often ruined. Thus, since he 
had received baptism, God had given him the grace 
to lead a life of great abstinence, and to sanctify his 
studies by virtue. One of his usual practices of piety 
was to go every Sunday, while in Rome, with his 
young companions, to visit the relics of the saints in 
the catacombs of that city. 

Before he left Aquilea, he had been some time de 
liberating as to what place he should select for his 
future abode, in order to retire from the world, and 
apply himself peacefully to ftudy. There was no such 
resting-place for him in his own country, for there he 
would be incessantly importuned by friends and ac 
quaintances who were of a different way of thinking. 
In Rome he was too well known, so he resolved to 
make a journey to the East, and there establish him 
self. Evagrus, Innocent, and Heliodorus followed him 
thither, and he took nothing with him except hii 

414 ST. JEROME. 

books, of which he had already chosen a large num 
ber. After journeying through Thrace, Pontus, Bithy- 
nia, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Cilicia, remaining some 
.ime at Tarsus, the birth-place of St. Paul, he came to 
Antioch, and retired to the desert of Chalcis, on the 
Confines of Syria and Arabia, where he embraced the 
monastic life. 

He had there for companions Innocent, Heliodorus 
and Ilylas. The priest Evagrus had remained at 
Antioch, whence he transmitted to Jerome the letters 
which arrived there for him. In order that he might 
succeed in his new mode of life, he commended him 
self to the prayers of St. Theodosia and some other 
solitary saints of Syria, whom he had seen in passing, 
while meditating his retreat. "I should like," said 
he, " to be now with you, and, however unworthy I 
miy be of seeing you, I should be rejoiced to embrace 
all your holy community. I should see a solitude 
more agreeable than all the cities of the world, and 
deserts inhabited, like the terrestrial paradise, by a 
multitude of saints. But since such a sinner as my 
self is unworthy to live in your company, I conjure 
you, at least (and I am sure you can obtain that favor 
for me), to beg of God that I may be delivered from 
the darkness of this world. I have already told you 
by word of mouth, and I now tell you again, that 
there is nothing which I so ardently desire as to be 
freed from the slavery of the world ... It seems to 

ST. JEROME. 415 

me as though I were surrounded by a vast ocean, so 
that I am unable either to advance or recede. It is, 
therefore, from your prayers that I expect the favoring 
breeze of the Holy Spirit, whereby I may continue 
my course and happily arrive at my destination." 

The desert of Chalcis was, then, the port whither 
he retired ; but after having enjoyed there for some 
time the calm repose of solitude, the Lord, who 
wished to prove and to sanctify him by tribulation, 
began to tincture with bitterness the sweets of his 
repose. Death deprived him of Innocent and Hylas, 
and his beloved Heliodorus left him to return to 
Italy. These painful separations, which grievously 
afflicted his heart, were followed by various maladies, 
and finally, in the intervals of his sufferings, he was 
tormented by violent temptations, arising from the 
remembrance of the pleasures of Rome, and these kept 
recurring to his mind in their most vivid coloring. 
This he explains to the virgin EustoquiaTih his excel 
lent letter to her on virginity, which made no small 
noise in Rome on its first appearance there. 

" During the time," says he, " that I remained in 
the desert and dwelt in that immense solitude, which, 
scorched by the fervid heat of the sun, offers nought 
but a dreary waste to the solitaries who make it their 
bode, how often have I fancied myself in the midst 
of t.he delights of Rome. Seated as I was, alone in 
the depth of my cave, plunged in an ocean of bitter- 

416 ST. JEROME. 

ness, clothed in a coarse linen garment, the very sight 
of which was revolting to nature, with my body all dis 
figured and my skin blackened, till it resembled that 
of an Ethiopian, my only occupation was to pass whole 
days and nights in tears and lamentations. Was I 
overpowered by sleep and forced, whether I would or 
not, to yield, I flung on the naked ground a body 
which was no more than a living skeleton. I say nothing 
of my nourishment, for, in the desert, even the sick 
drink only water, and it is there considered delicacy 
and sensuality to eat anything cooked. Shut up there 
in this species of prison, to which I had voluntarily 
condemned myself in order to escape the fire of hell, 
and having no other company than scorpions and fe 
rocious animals, I nevertheless failed not to imagine 
myself at times amongst the Roman ladies : beneath 
an exterior spoiled and defaced by a continual fast, I 
carried a heart torn and tormented by evil desires ; 
within a body of icy coldness and flesh already dead, 
in anticipation of its final destruction, concupiscence 
kept up an inextinguishable fire. 

" Seeing myself, therefore, without support and 
without resource, I cast myself at the feet of Jesus 
Christ, watering them with my tears, and drying them 
with my hair ; passing entire weeks without eating, in 
order to subdue my rebellious flesh and make it obe 
dient to the spirit. I have often passed whole days 
and nights in crying and striking my breast, till the 


Lord, dispelling the storm, restored peace to my heart. 
I feared to enter my cell because it had seen so many 
wicked thoughts spring up. Animated with just 
anger against myself, and treating my body with the 
utmost severity, I plunged alone into the desert ; and 
if I found a deep valley, a lofty mountain, or a steep 
rock, I instantly made it a place of prayer, and, as it 
we re, a prison wherein I chained my miserable flesh. 
There, bathed in my tears, and with my eyes inces 
santly raised to heaven, I sometimes fancied myself in 
the company of angels, and sang in the transports of 
my joy : We will run after thee to the odor of thy 
ointments" Cant. 1. 

With a view to get rid of these harassing thoughts, 
he added to his labors the study of the Hebrew lan 
guage. Accustomed, however, to the "eading of Cic 
ero and the best Latin authors, he could not, without 
repugnance apply himself to the study of alphabets 
and grammatical trifles ; so that, tired of the under 
taking, he left it off and resumed it at intervals, refresh 
ing himself in the meantime with that polite literature 
which he had never given up, notwithstanding the 
rigor of his penance. But God, who intended him 
for one of the most profound interpreters of Scripture 
for the use of his Church, sent him a violent fever, 
in the course of which he had a vision which made 
known to him how displeasing to Him was that tasts 
for profane authors, and the rigorous account \v Inch he 

418 ST. JEROME. 

should one day have to render if he continued to 
pursue it with an ardor so unsuited to his solitary life. 
He thus relates it in the letter to Eustoquia before- 
mentioned : So great was my misery and the excess of 
my passion, that after having quitted all to serve God 
and gain the way to heaven, I brought with me the 
books which I had collected at Rome with much caro 
and trouble, and which I could not bring myself to 
Design. I fasted, yet I read Cicero ; and after long and 
frequent vigils, after shedding torrents of tears, which 
gushed from the depth of my heart at the remem 
brance of my past sins, I set myself to read Plato ; 
and when, entering into myself, I set about reading 
the prophets, I was at once repelled by their harsh, 
unpolished style. Blind as I was, and unable to see 
the light, I betook myself to the sun instead of ac 
knowledging my blindness. 

" Thus seduced and deceived by the artifices of the 
old serpent, I had, about the middle of Lent, a fever, 
which, penetrating to the marrow of my body, al 
ready worn out by continual austerities, withered me 
away until I was literally skin and bone. As ray 
body was already cold, and I had but a feeble spark 
of life which the natural warmth still kept up, prepa 
rations for my burial were already going on, when all 
ot a sudden, in an ecstasy of the mind, I felt myself 
dragged before a tribunal. Dazzled by the splendoi 

ST. JEROME. 419 

of all around, 1 cast myself prostrate on the ground, 
not daring to raise my eyes. 

" Being asked by the judge what was my profes 
sion, I replied that I was a Christian. It is false, 1 
said he, thou art not a Christian, but a Ciceronian : 
for where thy treasure is, there also is thy heart. 1 
answered never a word, and, feeling myself more tor 
mented by the remorse of my conscience than by the 
blows which they gave me, (for He had condemned 
me to the lash) I thought of that saying of the 
Psalmist : TFTio, Lord, will give thce thanks in 
hell ? Psalm 6. I groaned and cried aloud : Have 
mercy on me, O Lord, have mercy on me, Psalm 56. 
This prayer and the voice of my lamentation were 
incessantly heard amid the whizzing of the lash. A: 
last, some who were present threw themselves at the 
feet of the judge, entreating him to take pity on my 
youth and to give me time to do penance for my fault, 
on condition that I was to be still more rio-orouslv 


punished in future, if I ever again should read profane 

" As for myself, who, at such a crisis, would have 
willingly promised an hundred times more, I be- 
o-an to assure him with the most solemn oaths, and 
taking himself to witness : Lord, if I ever again read, 
cr look at, profane books, I consent to be considered 
as having denied thee." Upon this, they let me 
go; I returned to the world, and to the great aur- 

420 ST. JEROME. 

prise of those who stood around my bed, I suddenly 
opened my eyes, shedding such a torrent of tears, that 
even the most incredulous were convinced of the pain 
I suffered ; for this was not merely a vision, or a dream, 
but a dread reality; bear witness the terrible tribunal 
before which I had been prostrated, and the vigorous 
judgment which had struck terror to my soul. Even 
after I awoke, I continued to feel the pain of the blows 
I had received, and my shoulders were all covered 
with bruises. The consequence was that, ever after, \ 
was as passionately fond of the study of sacred books 
as I had before been of profane authors. 

Much might be said on this subject ; for, while the 
study of Cicero is preferred to that of the Gospel, it 
shows that there is less love for God s truth than for the 
frivolous words of man. This instance is not the only 
one whereby we learn that a taste for reading profane 
authors is very reprehensible in those who make 
profession of a religious life. Many others of the Holy 
Fathers have condemned it as well as St. Jerome ; and 
if some of the saints have made a practice of it, it was 
not from any preference for such reading, but solely 
for the interest of religion, as David employed the 
sword of Goliath to cut off his head. 

St. Jerome remained but four years in the desert oi 
Chalcis. The schism which had broken out at Antiock 
in the affair of St. Paulinus and St. Mele, together 
with the persecution of some envious persons who 

ST. JEROME. 421 

went so far as to accuse him of error in the doctrine 
Df the Trinit/, forced him to retire to the neighborhood 
of Jerusalem, and to fly from one solitude to another. 
He then stopped at Bethlehem, which place he found 
more to his liking, so that he finally took up his abode 
there. He was, however, obliged to return once more 
to Antioch, where he was ordained priest by St. 
Paulinos ; this dignity he only accepted on condition 
*.hat he was not to be appointed to any church, nor 
compelled to abandon his profession of monk. Ho 
afterwards went to Constantinople, to see St. Gregory 
Nazianzen, under whom, as he himself testifies, he 
studied the Holy Scriptures and learned the best 
method of explaining them. St. Gregory having 
quitted the imperial city, our saint returned to Jerusa 
lem ; he then proceeded to Rome in company with St. 
Paulinus and St. Epiphanius, Pope Damasus having 
convoked a council. That holy pontiff kept St. Jerome 
at Rome after St. Paulinus and St. Epiphanius had 
returned home, for the purpose of having him at hand 
to write letters, and reply to the different consultations 
of the churches. 

In the midst of these important affairs St. Jerome 
continued to lead the life of a perfect monk, so that 
he gained the admiration of all persons distinguished 
by their rank or piety. His reputation had arrived 
long before himself in that capital of the Christian 
world, and his presence more than justified the praises 


422 ST. JEROME. 

lavished upon him. The sanctity of his morals, his 
profound humilty, his austere life, all these, taken con 
jointly with his resistless eloquence and his intimate 
knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures, won for him the 
esteem and the veneration of all who could appreciate 
real merit. He availed himself of this ascendency, in 
order to induce several persons of distinction to embrace 
a religious life. He had also for pupils, in sacred 
literature, St. Paula and many other Roman ladies, 
who became, under his direction, models of sanctity. 

But whilst his name was in such high repute, that 
he was never mentioned in Rome, or even in the prov 
inces, without respect and veneration, there arose against 
him, little by little, a persecution which proceeded 
from the envy of certain ecclesiastics, whose disorderly 
lives were condemned by the purity and regularity of 
his. This, coupled with his love of solitude, induced 
him, after the death of St. Damasus, to return to 
Palestine with his brother Paulinian, (his junior by 
thirty years) and they arrived there in the depth of 
winter. St. Jerome set out once more, in the Spring, 
to visit the holy solitaries of Egypt. In Alexandria he 
saw, amongst others, the famous Didymus. Returning, 
at length, to Palestine, he fixed himself permanently 
at Bethlehem. St. Paula, accompanied by her 
daughter Eustoquia, had already taken up her abode 
there. Slu built two large monasteries, one for men 
(whither St. Jerome retired), and the other for person! 

ST. JEROME. 423 

of her own sex. Our saint had the sole direction of 
both. We shall not here enter upon the detail of his 
occupations ; it is sufficient to say in general that his 
time was divided between acts of charity and the 
works which he composed for the service of the Church ; 
these last may be truly styled immense labors, whether 
considered as commentaries on the Sacred Scriptures, 
as controversial works, written in refutation of the 
various heresies of the time, or as apologies for himself 
in the persecutions raised up against him on different 
occasions by the heretics. Yet through all his ardu 
ous labors he never relaxed ought in his austerities. 
He lived always in monastic penance, and the vigor 
of his mind, which he preserved unimpaired, made up 
for the weakness of his body, exhausted by mortifica 
tion, and advancing age. 

Piety attracted from all parts of the world a vast 
number of pilgrims to the Holy Land, and these were 
chiefly monks. This was particularly the case after 
the capture of Rome by the Goths, as many persons 
then fled to Palestine for safety. This unusual con 
course of strangers obliged St. Jerome to enlarge hia 
monastery, so as to receive a greater number of people. 
He sent his brother Paulinian with a friend to sell 
what remained to him of his patrimonial inheritance, 
in order to raise funds for the purpose. He thus auded 
hospitality to his other works, and, the duties of charity 
engrossing the greater portion of his time, he had onlj 

424 ST. JEROME. 

the night for his studies ; which gave him anothef 
opportunity of doing penance To this may be added 
the functions wherewith he \\AS charged for the service 
of the Church in Bethlehem for Posthumian, who came 
from Gaul to visit the Holy Land, and who remained 
iix months with him, says that he governed the church 
of Bethlehem, which shows that he must have exer 
cised ecclesiastical authority. 

A t length St Jerome, the illustrious doctor of the 
church, as he is justly styled in the prayer of his office 
the glory and ornament of the monastic state, died 
at Bethlehem, worn out, as much by the rigor of his 
penance and his many labors, as by the number of his 
years. His death threw the entire church into mourn 
ing, and her sorrow was only assuaged by the possession 
of the invaluable works he had bequeathed to her. 
Authors are divided on the duration of his life : St. 
Prosper gives him ninety-one years, others still more, 
and others less. This diversity of opinion leaves it 
difficult to decide. 

Besides what this holy doctor has written for the 
Church in general, he also labored in private with 
uncommon zeal for persons engaged in the monastic 
state and for Christian virgins. In his lives of St. 
Paul, the first hermit, St. Hilarion, and several holl 
persons of the other sex, he has left us perfect models 
of religious perfection. The history of St. Malchiw 
also contains much valuable instruction. He trans- 

ST. JEROME. 425 

lated into Latin the rules of St. 1 acome, of St. Theo 
dore and of Orsise, for the use of those Latin monks 
who dwelt in the Theban deserts, in Egypt, and espe 
cially in the monastery of Metanea, who knew neither 
the Greek nor Egyptian language. This translation, 
which the priest Leontius with some others of the 
brethren had come to ask for, in the name of their 
community, served also for the monks of Syria, and 
the nuns of St. Paula s monastery. St. Paula had 
died before the translation was undertaken, but St. 
Eustoquia was still living. 

Heliodorus had, as we have said, accompanied our 
saint from Rome to Palestine, but he having returned 
home, St. Jerome addressed him in a letter, showing 
with much force and eloquence the advantages of a 
solitary life, and the fidelity with which it should be 
always followed, when once embraced. He com 
mences with reproaches, springing from friendship 
rather than from zeal ; and then he goes on entreat 
ing him to give up his native land and return to his 
desert : " Effeminate soldier ! what dost thou in the 
house of thy father ? What defences ail thou casting 
up against the attack of the enemy ? What winters 
dost thou pass there under tents? Remember the 
day when thou wert enrolled by Baptism in the army 
of Jesus Christ ; thou didst then swear to be faithful 
to him, and to give up even thy father or thy mothei 
when his service requires it. 

426 ST. JEROMlS. 

" The devil is already at work, trying to stifle Jesu* 
Christ in thy heart, and the enemies of thy salvation 
are. grieved to see thee in possession of the pledge 
which was given thee when thou didst enter into hia 
service. Let friends and relatives do their utmost to 
retain thee, fix thine eye on the standard of the cross, 

and follow it steadily I am not unfeeling ; I 

have not a heart incapable of being touched ; I have 
passed, like thyself, through all these trials. But 
when we truly love God and fear the pains of hell, 
we have no hesitation in breaking these chains. Thou 
wilt perhaps tell me : Is it then impossible to remain 
in a city without ceasing to be a Christian? You, 
my brother, stand not on the same footing as others. 
Hear what the Son of God says : If thou wouldst be 
perfect, go sell what you possess, and give it to the 
poor, then come and follow me, Matt. xix. You have 
made a vow to seek perfection, for, when you aban 
doned the world you engaged yourself, at the same 
time, to a perfect life. Then a true servant of Christ 
ought to have no other possession than Jesus Christ 
himself, for, if he possess aught besides, he ceases to 

be perfect 

"You will not fail to answer me that you no longer 
possess anything; but if that be so, why not fight, 
since that universal detachment fits you so well for the 
combat ? Perhaps you imagine that you can acquit 
rourself of all these duties in your own country 


But do you not know that the Saviour of the \vorld 
performed no miracles at home: Thence you must 
conclude that the solitary who never leaves his native 
land cannot attain perfection in his state. 

" When I have driven you from this entrenchment, 
you will, I know, bring forward against me the exam 
ple of the ecclesiastics ; and, as they dwell in cities, 
you should like to know whether I would condemn 
*,hem for so doing : God forbid that I should speak ill 
of those who hold in the Church the place of the 

Apostles If your brethren urge you to take 

priestly orders, I shall rejoice at your elevation, but I 
shall also fear lest you fall .... Put yourself, there 
fore, my dear brother, in the lowest place, to the end 
that you may not be removed to a lower seat when 
any more distinguished guest arrives, Luke xiv. If 
an anchoret fall, the priest will pray for him ; but 
who will pray for the priest if he himself chance to 

" desert ever enamelled with the flowers of Jesus 
Christ ! solitude whence are taken the stones to 
build the city of the Great King, mentioned by St. 
John in his Apocalypse ! desert where men are 
enabled to converse more familiarly with God ! What 
dost thou, then, in the world, my brother, seeing that 
thou art greater than the world? How long wilt 
thou remain under the shade of houses ? How long 
wilt thou shut thyself up in cities which are ever cov- 


ered by a black cloud of smoke ? Believe me, that 
here it seems like a new day. Freed as I am from 
the overwhelming care of my body, I take delight in 
soaring higher and higher into a purer and more se 
rene atmosphere. 

" What is it that you fear in solitude : is it pover 
ty ? Jesus Christ says that the poor are blessed : is 
it labor? The athletes are only crowned when they 
have fought and conquered. Is it anxiety about your 
food ? Faith dreads not hunger. Do you shrink 
from sleeping on the bare ground and thus macerating 
your body, already enfeebled by long fasts? The 
Lord will repose there with you. Could you not 
endure to have your hair shaggy and your face neg 
lected? The Apostle St. Paul tells us that Jesus 
Christ is the head of man. 1 Cor. xi. Do you dread 
the vast extent of a boundless solitude? You can 
imagine yourself in paradise, and your thoughts once 
raised to Heaven, the desert will be nothing to you. 
Are you afraid lest, for want of the bath, your skin 
may wrinkle and become rough ? When once you 
have been washed in Jesus Christ, you have no fur 
ther need of washing. In a word, hearken to what 
St. Paul says of all these objections : The sufferings, 
cf the present life bear no proportion to the glory 
which shall one day be revealed to us. Rom. viii. 

St. Panlinus, having given his immense wealth to 
the poor, and embraced voluntary poverty, applied to 

8T. JEROME. 429 

St. Jerome for rules whereby to regulate his new state. 
The saint, who had exhorted him, in another letter, 
to breakaway entirely from the world and devote him 
self wholly to God, now told him at once that no man 
merits praise for having been to Jerusalem, where ho 
desired to go and Avished to remain, but only for 
having lived well there ; that each of the faithful is to 
be judged, not by the place of his abode, but by the 
value of his faith ; that Heaven is equally open to the 
citizens of Jerusalem and the inhabitants of Great 
Britain, because that the kingdom of God, as Jesus 
Christ says, is within us, Luke, xvii ; that St. Antho 
ny and a multitude of the solitaries of Egypt, of 
Mesopotamia, of Pontus, of Cappadocia, and of Ar 
menia, had gone to heaven without ever having seen 
Jerusalem ; and that St. Hilarion, born in Palestine, 
went there but once, and then remained but a single 
day. " You may, therefore," continues he, " without 
hurting your faith, dispense with seeing the city of 
Jerusalem. . . . But, after having withdrawn yourself, 
by the state that you have chosen, from the crowds 
and tumult of the city, your study should be to live 
in the country, to seek Jesus Christ in retreat, to pray 
with him on the mountain and to seek no other 
neighborhood than that of the holy places, so as to 
give up cities altogether, and remain constantly at 
tached to your state. ... Let us imitate the masters 
of the solitary life which we profess, that is to say, the 

430 ST. JEROME. 

Pauls, the Anthonies, Macarius and Hilarion ; and, if 
we come to the authority of the Sacred Scriptures, le* 
us take for our models Elias, Eliseus, and the children 
of the prophets, who always retired in the country 
and living in solitude, built themselves cabins on the 
banks of the Jordan. 

" Shun company avoid banquets, and all the vain 
observances and affected politeness of worldlings, as so 
many chains which serve but to make us the slaves of 
luxury. Eat in the evening a little herbs and vegeta 
bles, with a few little fish now and then by way of 
dainty. When one nourishes himself with Jesus 
Christ, and fixes upon him all the desires of the heart, 
he is very little troubled about the quality of the food 

wherewith he regales his body Be always 

assiduous in the reading of the Sacred Scripture ; 
apply yourself often to the exercise of prayer, prostra 
ted before God ; raise your every thought to Him ; pray 
often during the night, and go sometimes to bed with 
out having broken your fast Be not vain of 

jour mean apparel ; have no connection with people of 
the world, especially the great. What necessity is 
Shere that you should frequently see what you have 
resigned for love of the monastic state." 

St. Jerome, after having exhorted Heliodorus to 
return into solitude, and drawn up for St. Paulinus 
(afterwards Bishop of Nole) the rules of a true 
anchoret, writes to the monk Rustique, who was a 

ST. JEROME. 431 

Graul a native of Marseilles. He speaks to him of 
the cenobitic life, and the. conduct which he ought to 
observe. He shows him at first, in the following terms, 
the general duties of the monastic life : " If you would, 
therefore," says he, " become a true solitary, and rot 
content yourself with the bare appearance thereof, you 
should attend solely to the affairs of your salvation, 
and disturb yourself no more about the welfare of 
your family, seeing that renouncing it was the first 
step towards making you what you are. Ever mani 
fest in your neglect of external appearance, the beauty 
of a pure and guileless heart; and show by the 
poverty of your garments how much you despise what, 
the world esteems, always provided that vanity have 
no part in the display, and that your words correspond 
with your habit. 

" Practice fasting, and never flatter the body by 
the use of the bath. Be moderate, however, in youi 
fasting, and use it with discretion, lest you weaken 
your stomach so much that you might require to eat 
more than usual, in order to restore its strength. A 
little nourishment taken with moderation, is profitable 
both to soul and body. . . . Whilst you remain in 
your own country, regard your cell as a terrestrial 
paradise. Go cull from the Holy Scriptures the 
various fruits there abounding ; make them your chief 
pleasure, and be always assiduous in the reading of 
these divine books. Apply yourself solely to the care 

432 ST. JEROME. 

of your soul, and let all the rest give you little con 

" As the object now is to form and instruct, in you, 
a young solitary who has taken upon him the yoke 
of Jesus Christ After having been trained from his 
youth up in the study of polite literature, it becomes 
necessary to ascertain whether it is more advantageous 
ib r you to live in solitude by yourself, than to make 
one in a community. For myself, I advise you to 
place yourself in the company of the saints, never to 
trust to your own suggestions, or enter upon unknown 

regions without a safe guide I do not pretend 

to condemn the solitary life, I who have so often 
recommended it ; but I would have no one retire to 
the desert without having first passed through the 
spiritual combats of the monastery. I would have 
them first give proofs of virtue and purity of heart ; 
that they should only rise above others, in the excel 
lence of the solitary state, after having made them 
selves the lowest of all in the society of brethren ; in 
short, I would that they should never suffer themselves 
to be overcome by hunger, nor yet by intemperance ; 
that they should delight in poverty, and that they 
should present in their air, in their words, and in their 
walk, an image of every virtue. . . . 

" Have always some book in your hands ; learn the 
Psalter by heart; pray without ceasing; watch care 
fully over your sense?, , busy not yourself with vain 

ST. JEROME. 433 

thoughts ; let all that is within you tend to God ; 
overcome by patience, the motions of anger : love the 
study of the Holy Scripture ; banish from your mind 
whatever might disturb its repose ; be always busy, 
PO that the devil may never find you idle. If the 
Apostles applied themselves to manual labor, to the 
end that they might not be burthensome to others, 
why should not you do the same ? Apply yourself, 
therefore, to making baskets or mats, or weeding the 
ground, or cultivating a garden, or making fishing- 
nets, or transcribing books, to the end that ; you, may 
at the same time support your body by the,,la]bor.of, 
your hands, and nourish your soul by the , reading of 
good books. Men who live in idleness are usually 
subject to a multitude of desires. It is;an established 
custom in the monasteries of Egypt to receive none 
who are not able to do manual labor, and this not so 
much to cater for the wants of the body as to provide 
for those of the soul, and prevent the solitary from 
giving way to vain and hurtful thoughts. 

" Speaking of this, I will tell , you what I myself 
witnessed when in Egypt. There was in a certain 
monastery a young monk, of Grecian origin, who was 
so grievously tempted, that the most rigorous fasts 
and the most painful labors could not overcome the 
temptation. His superior, , beginning to fear that he 
might, at last, yield, conceived the following plan fof 
effecting his release : 

434 ST. JEROME. 

" He ordered one of the seniors to treat him verv 
harshly, and, after loading him with all manner of 
nbuse, to be always the first to complain of him. 
Then witnesses were brought forward who were 
always sure to be on the side of the old monk, so that 
the poor brother was much grieved by the calumny 
heaped upon him, and because there was none to tell 
the truth. It was only the superior who seemed to 
have any compassion for him, and that was for fear 
he mio-ht sink under the intolerable load of his afflic- 


tion. This sham persecution went on for a whole 
year, at the end of which time he was asked whether 
he was still tormented by the fierce temptations which 
had formerly left him no peace. " Alas !" he replied, 
" how could I think evil, when I have not even a 
moment to breathe ?" Had this young man been 
alone, who, think you, would have helped him to 
overcome his enemy ? 

" I will not tire you with a longer detail," continues 
St. Jerome, " 1 merely propose to show you by this, 
that you ought not to be master of your own actions, 
but to live in a monastery under the guidance of a 
superior and in company with many others, to the 
end that you may learn of the one to live in humility, 
of the other to practice patience, of this to keep silence, 
of the other to be mild and docile. You will not then 
be at liberty to do as you please, but will be obliged 
to eat as others choose, to have nought but what is 

ST. JEROME. 435 

given you, to wear such habits as are selected for you, 
to do every day what work is required of you, to obey 
persons who may be fur from agreeable to you, to He 
down at night overwhelmed with fatigue, to sleep as 
you walk, and to be obliged to quit your bed long 
before you have slept enough. 

You shall also sing psalms in your place ; and then 
you must not seek to gratify the ear, but to inflame 

the heart These different occupations will 

shelter you from temptation, and making one labor 
succeed another, you will be entirely engrossed with 
what you have to do." 

St. Jerome has written letters to persons of various 
conditions, giving them admirable rules for sanctifying 
themselves in their respective states. Bishops, eccle 
siastics of every grade, married people, widows, all 
find in his writings instruction and advice which, if 
carried out, will enable them to attain perfection. For 
instance, writing to Heliodorus, bishop of Altino, to 
console him on the death of his nephew Nepotian, he 
makes use of these beautiful words : " All the faith 
ful have their eyes on the bishop. His household, 
and his conduct are observed by all. H,e ought to 
serve as an example to his whole church, and there 
is no one who will not try to do a portion of what ho 
does." To Nepotian, when living, he had also written 
this advice to ecclesiastics : " The Greek word clerot 
signifies lot and share. The name of clerks is there 

436 ST. JEROME. 

fore given to ecclesiastic?, either because they are 
devoted to the Lord, or because the Lord is their 
portion. Now he who belongs to the Lord, or who 
has the Lord for his portion, ought to live as one who 
possesses the Lord, and in whom the Lord abides." 
We also have his epistle to the widow Furia, of tiie 
ancient and illustrious house of the Camillas, regard 
ing the duties of a Christian widow ; and to Leta, 
how she ought to preserve her daughter, the young 
Paula, in innocence, to consecrate her to the Lord. 
Nothing can be wiser or more salutary than the advice 
which he gives her on that subject. 

Finally, St. Jerome seems to have surpassed himself, 
when he wrote in favor of virginity and gave precepts 
to Christian virgins. We should exceed our limits 
were we to repeat all he has said on that angelic state 
and its incumbent duties. Those who wish to be 
instructed on the subject, may read his letters to 
EustojpMJSftcfto Demetriades. It will suffice for us 
to remark in general that he elevates the state of 
virginity to the same rank as that of apostles and 
martyrs ; that the life of a virgin is more conformable 
to that of J^sus Christ, in as much as he is their chief 
and the author of virginity. He advises them, above 
all, to renounce the vanities of the world, to shun the 
ompany of worldly-minded young women, to live in 
etirement, to go out but seldom and when occasion 
inquired it, to read good books, to mortify their senses^ 


to love labor and shun idleness, and all useless con 
versation ; to live, in short, so discreetly, as to inspire 
others, by their virtue, with a love and esteem fof 
chastity. Lastly, he adds these few words which 
epitomise all the sanctity of a Christian virgin : " A 
spouse of Jesus Christ must be like the ark of the 
Covenant, all sovered with gold within and without 
and be the depository of the law of God. As the ark 
contained only the tables of the Testament, so ought 
she to banish from her mind the idea of all exterior 
and sensible things. It is on this propitiatory, as of 
old on the wings of the cherubim, that the Lord will 




THESE two illustrious saints have done so much 
honor to the monastic order, that we cannot dispense 
with their lives in this collection. We will not sepa 
rate them here, since their connection was so close and 
that they acted in such perfect harmony, giving each 
in his own province such singular lustre to the monas 
tic state in Syria, in Palestine, and in Egypt. 


The city of Cesarea in Cappadocia, was the birth- 
place of St. Basil. His birth is generally placed some 
where about the year 328. In his own family he 
found nobility, riches and sanctity. He was brought 
up by his maternal grandmother, St. Macrina, and 
received from his father the first rudiments of polite 
literature, and apparently, of rhetoric. He afterwards 
went successively to Cesarea of Palestine, to Constan 
tinople and to Athens, to prosecute his other studies. 
It was in the last named city that he contracted an 
intimate friendship with St. Gregory of Nazianzen, 
who was nearly of his own age, and had the same 
virtuous inclinations. 

His conduct in all these different cities was worthy 
of the excellent training he had received, and lie every 
where manifested extraordinary talents in mastering 
the higher branches of learning. In all the various 
departments of science he equalled his masters, and 
outstripped all his competitors. In a short time he 
acquired a high reputation amongst all classes ol 
people, and was everywhere distinguished for his pro 
found erudition and vast attainments, which were far 
in advance of his age. But he was even more admir 
ed for the gravity of his manners and the staid decorum 
of his life. The study of eloquence was but a secon 
dary object with him, as he sought it only to make it 
subservient to Christian philosophy, which requires its 
assistance. His chief study was to le^rn the art ot 


cletacbing himself from the world to become united 
with God ; to gain immutable and eternal treasures 
by the use of those which are frail and fleeting, and 
to purchase heaven at the expense of all terrestrial 
things. He continued this same mode of life in Con 
stantinople, where he studied under the famous Liba- 
nius, who respected him then, young as he was, for 
the purity of his morals, and was charmed with his 
wondrous eloquence. Divine Providence and his 
laudable thirst for the sciences afterwards conducted 
him to Athens. 

St. Gregory of Nazianzen, whom he had known at 
Oesarea, had arrived there before him. This saint was 
born about the year 329, in the town of Arianzen, in 
the territory of Nazianzen, from which cause it is that 
that city is regarded as his birth-place. His father 
was Gregory, subsequently bishop of the same city, 
and his mother was the blessed Nonna, both recognized 
as saints, together with St. Cesaire his brother, and his 
Bister St. Gorgonia. His mother obtained this favor 
from God by the fervor of her prayers, and his child 
hood passed away in that happy innocence, which 
was nourished and preserved by the piety of his pa 
rents. From his earliest years he gave tokens of a 
maturity of thought far beyond his age, and giving a 
lair promise for the future. His love for virtue in 
creased with his age ; he loved to read pious books, 
and took the greatest pleasure in the conversation of 


devout persons. He once had a dream, in which 
chastity presented herself to his sight, arrayed in all 
her celestial charms, whereupon his heart was inflamed 
with an inextinguishable love of that divine virtue. In 
consequence thereof he renounced all the amusements 
of youth, and all that might induce him to love the 
world, and made it his chief pleasure to devote him 
self to the service of Christ. After receiving from his 
father the groundwork of an excellent education, 
he went to Cesarea of Cappadocia, and thence to 
Cesarea of Palestine, where he took lessons of Thes- 
peces, a celebrated orator. But while cultivating 
profane literature he always gave the preference to 
sacred letters, which he considered as the only study 
worthy of a Christian. He also remained some time 
in Alexandria, and then proceeded to Athens in order 
to perfect himself in eloquence. His voyage thither 
was marked by the peculiar protection of God, who 
destined him for the support of his church and the 
salvation of many. The vessel in which he sailed, 
was beaten about for twenty days by a violent storm, 
during which time those on board were exposed to the 
rroot imminent peril. Nearly all that time our saint 
ay prostrate on the deck, imploring the mercy of God, 
and renewing the oblation of himself which his holy 
mother had made at his birth. His father and mother 
had, it seems, a presentiment of the danger in which 
he was, and they joined their prayers to his. God 


.heard them favorably : the sea became calm, and all 
those who were in the vessel were so persuaded that 
they owed their safety to his prayers, that they with 
one accord embraced the faith of Jesus Christ. H 
at length landed at Egina, whence he repaired to 
Athens ; this was about the year 350, so that he 
might then have been twenty -one or twenty -two years 
of age. 

St. Basil, whose history we now resume, arrived 
there about the year 351. It was, doubtless, a great 
consolation to him to meet St. Gregory ; but being 
somewhat disappointed in his expectations with regard 
to Athens, he began to repent of having come. Gre 
gory revived his drooping spirits, and restored tran 
quillity to his mind by representing that as the morals 
of men are only known by long experience, time was 
also necessary in order to form a correct judgment 
regarding their doctrine. 

Their friendship, which was at first but a natural 
one, became closer and more solid when they began 
to confide o far in each other, as to interchange the 
mutual sentiments of their hearts ; and knowing that 
they had no other design than that of consecrating 
themselves wholly to God, they had thenceforward 
but one home and one table, even as they had but 
cue will to serve God as perfectly as they could. 
w Alas !" says St. Gregory, speaking of that blessed 
union, " how can I describe it here without shedding 


tears ? Science, so very subject to envy, was the 
object of our pursuit, yet neither had one feeling of 
rivalry ; on the contrary, emulation only excited us to 
study well, and we strove, not for who should prevail, 
but for who should yield to his friend. Each of us 
regarded the other s glory as his own. Our sole am 
bition and our sole endeavor was to acquire virtue ; 
we lived but to render ourselves worthy of the world 
to come ; we labored to detach ourselves from this 
life before death should call us hence, and to this end 
nil our efforts were directed. The law of God was our 
guide, and we urged each other on to the practice of 
virtue ; we had no connection with libertine scholars, 
but sought the company of those who were wise and 
virtuous ; we avoided those young men who were of 
n, turbulent disposition, and associated only with the 
mild and peaceful, because it is much easier to con 
tract vice than to communicate virtue ; we took more 
pleasure in the useful sciences than in those which are 
merely amusing ; we knew but two ways, that which 
led to the church, and it we loved dearly, and that 
which led to the school, and which we trod with less 
pleasure ; to others we left the road to profaue ban 
quets, to plays, balls and assemblies, for nothing should 
interest us that does not tend to regulate our lives. 
Borne there are who take names, either from their pa 
rents, or according to their inclinations ; but we gloried 
n being called Christians, and deserving the name." 

81: BASIL THE GREAT. 44ft 

Thus spoke St. Gregory, and we have thought it 
expedient to record this most edifying passage, in 
. jrder to present a model to students, and to deprive 
them of the pretext of youth, or of bad example, since 
these saints were then at the age when the passions 
are the most violent, and that they dwelt in a city, 
surrounded, of course, by young profligates, who, 
while cultivating their minds, by the pursuit of 
science, abandoned their hearts to their own perverse 

Julian, subsequently the Emperor and the Apostate, 
came to Athens while our two friends were studying 
there. They very soon discovered his evil propensi 
ties, although he dared not then manifest them. 
Hence it was that St. Gregory said with deep sorrow . 
" Oh ! what a canker does the Roman empire foster, 
in the person of this young man ! God grant that I 
may in this matter be a false prophet !" They re 
mained but a short time in Athens after the arrival of 
the prince, and Basil first left it, about the year 355, 
notwithstanding all the efforts that were made to in 
duce him to remain. St. Gregory soon after followed 
his example. They both repaired to Constantinople 
and were at length re-united in Cappadocia. 

St. Basil had lost his father ; and having reached 
Cesarea, his native place, he complied somewhat with 
the world and the aspect of the times, accoiding to 
the expression of St. Gregory Nazianzen, which may 


signify that he taught rhetoric, not through ostenta* 
tion, but to gratify the wishes of his fellow-citizens. 
But his sister, St. Macrina, adding her entreaties to 
the interior promptings of his own soul, he at length 
determined to renounce the world. " He began, there 
fore," says St. Gregory Nazianzen, " to live for him 
self, to change from a child to a man, and to make 
more generous efforts to arrive at divine philosophy." 
" He despised," says also St. Gregory of Nyssa, " all 
the vain glory of profane learning, and chose rathei 
to embrace an humble life, even as Moses preferred 
the Hebrews to the treasures of the Egyptians." 

But let St. Basil himself describe the state in which 
he then was. " After having," says he " given much 
time to vanity, and spent nearly all the years of my 
youth in acquiring by long and useless toil that worldly 
wisdom which is condemned by God, I awoke, at 
length, as from a profound sleep. In that state I 
longed for a guide to conduct me into the way of true 
piety. My greatest care was to reform my morals. 
T, therefore, applied myself to study the Gospel, and I 
there found that there is no better means of attaining 
perfection than to sell all worldly goods, and divide 
the amount thereof with those who are in need, to get 
rid of all the cares of this life, so that the soul may 
not be disturbed by any attachment to sublunary 

St. Gregory, who had postponed his baptism till ha 


iboulcl have returned to his own country, undertook, as 
soon as he had received it, the same perfection which 
he had recommended to his friend. Henceforward, 
he gave himself so entirely to God that he wished for 
nothing but him alone. He had an absolute contempt 
for riches, rank, fame, power, and all the worthless lux 
uries of this world. " I have given all," says he in 
one place " to Him who has received and preserved me 
for his portion. To Him have I consecrated my wealth, 
my glory, my health, and whatever eloquence I may 
have; all the profit which I have derived from these 
advantages is a contempt for them, and the pleasure 
of having something that I might, if I would, prefer 
to Jesus Christ." Thenceforward, he regarded as 
valueless all the grandeur and pleasure of the world. 
His sole nourishment was coarse bread with a little 
salt and water, and he delighted more in that humble, 
mortified life, than worldlings do amid all the enjoy 
ments of sense. 

By this we learn that he, as well as St. Basil, then 
embraced the ascetic life ; but they did not remain 
long together, however they might have wished it, as 
St. Gregory was obliged to stay with his father and 
mother, in compliance with the duty imposed upon him 
by nature. Hence St. Basil made alone some voyages 
which he judged conformable to his cherished purpose 
of consecrating himself to God without reserve, and 
he traveled through Mesopotamia, Celesyria, Palestine 


and Egypt. He visited the holy solitaries in thoe 
regions, and admired their austere and laborious life, 
with their extraordinary fervor and assiduity in prayer. 
lie was astonished to perceive that although invinci 
ble to sleep and the other necessities of nature, in 
hunger, thirst, cold, and nakedness, without a wish for 
wiy species of relief, as though their body were a 
stranger to them ; yet they always had their minds 
/ree and fixed on God showing by their conduct how 
men on earth may regard themselves as citizens of 

It would seern that St. Basil chanced to be in Alex 
andria at the time when the impious George, that 
furious Arian, raised such a violent persecution against 
the Catholics and St. Athanasius. It was also in the 
course of these travels, and about the year 357 or 358, 
that he had everywhere the great affliction of seeing 
tae most virtuous and the most distinguished amongst 
the bishops and clergy, banished and maltreated by 
the Arians, who had filled the church with schisms 
a*jd dissensions. His heart was torn with sorrow, con 
sidering that, whilst men agreed together in all the 
d fterent states of life of which they made profession, 
it was seen, on the contrary, that in the church of God 
for which Christ died and on which he poured down 
the plenitude of grace, most of its members were op 
posed to each other and to the rules of Scripture, 
But what appeared to him still more fearful was to 


ee priests divided in sentiments and in belief, and so 
opposite in their conduct to the precepts of Jesus 
Christ, ruthlessly tearing the chinch of God asunder, 
disturbing his flock without respect for those who be 
longed to Him, and verifying the saying of St. Paul, 
that some amongst them should teach a corrupt doc 
trine for the sake of gaining disciples for themselves. 
He began to examine within himself what might be 
the cause of these disorders, and discovered, with the 
help of the holy books, that these divisions, and the 
temerity of those who took the liberty of inventing 
new dogmas, and of making a party for themselves in 
opposition to that of Jesus Christ, rather than submit 
to him, that all this proceeded solely from the fact 
that these men had abandoned God and would no 
longer recognize him as their King. 

Dianeus was bishop of Cesarea for several years be 
fore St. Basil returned from his travels, and the pre 
late (who had baptized our saint) fearing lest some 
other church might take him from him, gave him at 
once the order of reader ; but that did not prevent him 
from imitating the lives of those solitaries whom he 
had seen. With that intent he joined Eustachus and 
his disciples who there professed the monastic life 
Eustuchus was a countryman of his and alsc one of 
his earliest friends. He had built a monastery where 
b he assembled several disciples, who observed a very 
discipline; and St. Basil considered them worthy 


of his esteem, seeing that their exterior was so rcgulai 
and their mode of living so nearly approaching that 
of the solitaries whom he had seen in the other prov 

Nevertheless, there were many persons who tried to 
dissuade him from having any intercourse with them, 
on the grounds that they were far from being ortho 
dox in their belief with regard to the divinity of Christ 
But the saint rejected this advice, being unable to 
persuade himself that these men were interiorly so 
very different from their modest and penitent exterior. 
Tie very soon found that he had erred in forming such 
a favorable estimate of them, and we have only to read 
ecclesiastical history to recognize in Eustachus a pupil 
of Arius, a Proteus who had no other faith than that 
which might best promote his own interest, and finally 
the greatest persecutor that St. Basil himself ever had. 

The saint was not long in Cesarea; he merely 
waited there for St. Gregory Nazianzen to retire with 
him into Pontus ; but St. Gregory was prevented from 
coming, and our saint resolved to pay a visit to his 
mother, who resided with her daughter, St. Macrina, 
where they had established a monastery of virgins. 
There St. Basil found a solitude such as he desired. 
His mother s monastery was situated near the river 
[ris, at a short distance from Ibora, a small episcopal 
town of Pontus, and within seven or eight stadas of 
the church of the Forty Martyrs. The solitude chosen 


ty St. Basil was on the opposite bank of the river, and 
he wrote a tempting description of it to St. Gregory, 
with the hope of inducing him to go there ; but the 
time was not yet come. 

This first retreat may be placed about the year 
358. The life on which he then entered was very 
poor and very austere : bread, salt, and water were 
his only nourishment (as we have already said of St. 
Gregory) ; when he added to this a few herbs or vege 
tables it was on some high festival. It was then that 
he wrote to St. Gregory Nazianzen that excellent letter 
which has been placed at the head of all the others, 
treating at length of the conduct of solitaries, and con 
taining much useful instruction. He there enters into 
a detail which may serve to direct religious persons in 
every action of their lives, and to make them perfect 
models of sanctity in their state. In the rules there 
laid down he does but embody his own conduct. 

In order to be convinced of this, it is only necessary 
to read what his brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and 
St. Gregory of Nazianzen have written of him. They 
say that having determined to embrace evangelical 
poverty, that resolution was as firm in his soul as a 
rock amid the waves ; that his delight was to have noth 
ing and to follow in holy poverty his Saviour s cross ; 
that he possessed nothing but his own body, devoting 
all that remained of his wealth to the relief of the 
poor. In fine, his abstinence was so great, that those 


who wrote his eulogium after his death, as naving 
been the witnesses of his austerity during life, have 
said that he gave to his body, not what nature de 
manded for its support, but what the law of his absti- 
ence had prescribed for it. 

St. Gregory Nazianzen at length yielded to his en 
treaties, and went to join him in his solitude. We 
Lave a letter written by him some time after, wherein, 
recalling the memory of the happy days they had 
spent together in the exercises of the solitary life, he 
makes known to us their manner of living. " Who," 
says he, "could be sufficiently grateful for having 
passed a single month as happily as I did with you, 
when our pleasure was hard work and voluntary pri 
vations : So true it is that things even the most pain 
ful become agreeable to us when they are done of our 
own free will, whereas those which are in themselves 
pleasing, become irksome and painful when done by 
constraint. Who will restore to me those Canticles, 
those vigils, those prayers which transported us from 
earth to heaven ; that life which was almost disen 
gaged from matter ; that emulation which we had for 
the practice of virtue, or that zeal which we displayed 
in making our actions conform to the rules of solid 
piety ? What satisfaction did I not then enjoy in 
applying myself to the study of the Sacred Scriptures f 
And, to descend to more trivial matters, shall I see no 
more those days when we labored with our hands, in 


carrying wood, hewing stones, planting trees, or dig 
ging channels to carry off the water ?" 

It is thus that St. Gregory reminds St. Basil of the 
innocent pleasures of their retreat ; and it appears 
that they consisted solely in a taste for prayer, in the 
exercise of the virtues, in penitential labors, in holy 
meditation on the sacred writings, to which they added 
the study of the Fathers who had previously explained 
them, so as to gather from their interpretations their 
true signification and the tradition of the church. 

About this time it was that the inhabitants of 
Xeocesarea sent a deputation of their chief men to St. 
Basil, praying him to go to their city for the instruc 
tion of youth ; but the love of solitude prevailed in 
his heart over their solicitations, earnest as they were, 
for he loved better to enjoy his God in silence, than to 
teach others the art of speaking eloquently. But 
although he had retired to Pontus in order to devote 
himself to God and his own soul, far away from the 
tumult of the city, he could not prevent people from 
coming to him, in crowds, for rules of conduct; especial 
ly as, besides the rare talent which he had for expound 
ing the sacred maxims of religion, and his profound 
knowledge thereof, he exemplified what he taught by 
his own life. 

This was what caused the establishment of a grand 
monastery, and in course of time, several others, 
whereof his charity induced him to take the utmost 


care, moved thereto by his fervent zeal for the glory 
of God and the salvation of souls. We learn from 
St. Gregory Nazianzen, who was an eye-witness of the 
fact, that the monks lived there, under the guidance 
of the saint, in a marvellous union and an extraordi 
nary ardor for the practice of virtue, animating each 
other thereto, so that it might be said of them that, 
by their fervor, they rendered men superior to their 
own nature, and in some degree, celestial. The saint 
wished them to live in common, so as to join society 
with retreat, for which reason he usually calls them 
communities of brethren, and, brotherhoods. Tha 
better to establish amongst them an exact and uniform 
observance, he instructed them with maxims from the 
Fathers, and the earliest masters of the religious life, 
and also gave them rules for conducting and sanctify 
ing themselves in their state. Hence, we have the 
precious treasure of these rules in his works, namely, 
the greater rules, which contain thirty-five questions 
and their answers ; and the minor rules which are to 
the number of three hundred and thirteen, wherein 
the subjects are not so copiously enlarged upon. He 
also wrote in his solitude various letters, to monks, 
rirgins, and other persons. But, whilst he labored to 
inspire men with the love of retirement, by the expe 
rience which he had of the advantages that it procures 
for the soul, he manifested fully as much zeal to fill 
the monastery of his sister, St. Macrina, with chaste 


uoves, whose principal exercise was to sigh incessantly 

after heaven. This he expressly indicates to a lady 

named Julita, who was a widow and related to him> 

when he assures her that if he should one day have* 

he happiness of seeing her embrace that holy and 

ublime state, he would need the assistance of many 

other persons to give adequate thanks to God. 

His zeal did not confine itself to these first founda 
tions, for he went about through all the cities and 
towns of Pontus, urging the inhabitants of that pro 
vince to shake off their natural indolence, and begin 
to serve God in earnest. He prevailed upon very 
many persons to renounce the world for the welfare 
of their souls, and to unite in a holy society for the 
service of God. He taught them to build monasteries, 
to establish communities, to take care of each other, 
to the end that none might want the necessaries of 
life ; to occupy themselves with prayer, to sing hymns 
and psalms, to have care of the poor, to provide them 
with decent lodgings, and to furnish them with the 
means of living. He also looked after the interest of 
women as well as men, and instructed those people to 
bring up virgins fit for becoming the spouses of Christ 
Jesus. Thus it was that he speedily changed the as 
pect of that province, so that almost every one began 
to lead a chaste and holy life, and many persons laid 
Lheir treasures at his feet to be distributed amongsi 
the poor. 


St. Gregory Nazianzen labored, en his side, for th 
glory of God ; and these two great men, whom the 
Lord had given to his church to sustain her during 
the perilous times of Arianism, exerted themselves 
with extraordinary success, throwing in the whole 
weight of their genius and the product of their stu 
dies, for the confounding of sinners, the preservation 
and encouragement of the just, and for the defense of 
the true faith against the assaults of error. Basil, full 
of tenderness and compassion for sinners, mildly en 
couraged them to arise after their fall, while Gregory 
exerted himself to prevent them in the first place from 
falling into sin : the one was pure and untainted in 
his own faith, the other boldly announced it to others ; 
the one was humble before God, the other was so 
before men ; the one soared above the proud, looking 
down contemptuously upon them, the other overcame 
them by the force of his reasoning. It was thus that 
by various ways they both attained the same perfec 
tion, and were destined by God for the government 
of his people. 

St. Gregory was not long permitted to share the 
solitude of St. Basil. He was called home by his 
father, who was bishop of Nazianzen, and had great 
need of his son s assistance, more especially since he 
had allowed himself to be so far duped by the Arians 
^3 to sign the captious formulary of Rimini, which 
gave rise to so many disorders in the church. From 


that time the monks of his diocese had separated from 
him, and it was for the purpose of effecting a recon 
ciliation, and doing away with the effects of his fath 
er s fall, that St. Gregory was summoned home. 

On the other hand, Dianeus, bishop of Cesare-a, 
had, as we have already mentioned, fallen into the 
same error as the father of St. Gregory ; and St. Basil, 
although he tenderly loved him as his spiritual father 
(having received baptism from him), was, nevertheless, 
obliged to separate himself from his communion, hia 
faith being dearer to him than any thing of this world. 
The simplicity of St. Gregory s father, his own natural 
integrity and sincerity, together with his great age, 
had prevented him from distrusting the specious pre 
tensions of the Arians, or suspecting the venom con 
cealed in the formulary of Rimini. So, too, the ex 
treme mildness of Dianeus, and his total want of firm 
ness, had led him into a similar fault. 

St. Gregory, having reached Nazianzen, labored 
with all his might to reconcile his father with those 
who had separated from his communion, and he had, 
at length, the consolation of gaining his end. The 
monks, who had been the last to secede, being more 
grieved than exasperated by the fall of their bishop, 
were the first to give the example of returning. This 
took place about the year 364, and it was the general 
wish that St. Gregory should celebrate the re-union 
by a public discourse ; this he did, for he had pre 


viously received Holy Orders from the hands of hie 
father, who had ordained him contrary to his own 
wishes, and he had joined St. Basil in his retreat 
chiefly to console himself for this elevation, from which 
his modesty made him shrink. 

St. Basil was also ordained priest in Cesarea a short 
time after St. Gregory, and about the year 362. He 
had been summoned to that city by the Bishop, Dia 
neus, who, being on his death-bed, wished to be rec 
onciled with him, and protested to him that, although 
he had signed the formulary of Rimini, not being 
aware of its real character, he had never in reality 
meant to do any thing contrar} 7 to the faith of Nice. 
With this assurance the saint thought himself obliged 
to be satisfied. Dianeus being dead, Eusebius was 
elected in his place, who hastened, after his consecra 
tion, to raise St. Basil to the priesthood, in order to 
secure him for his own diocese, and St. Basil was 
quite as much afflicted by his ordination as St. Gre 
gory had before been. He was, therefore, obliged to 
remain in Cesarea, notwithstanding his ardent wish to 
return to his dear solitude in Pontus ; and he com 
plained of it in a letter to St. Gregory, who, endeav 
oring to console him, answered as follows : " You 
have, therefore, been caught as well as we, and we 
have both fallen into the same snare. They have 
mad a us priests, though neither of us had any such 
intention, for we can bear witness of each other thai 


each has ever loved the humblest and most obscure 
life, and it might still have been the most advanta 
geous to both. I, at least, would not venture to say 
otherwise, until I am convinced what was or is the 
vvill of God with regard to us. But since the deed is 
done, I am of opinion that we must submit, chiefly 
because of the times in which we live, when heretics 
attack us on every side, and let it be our study not to 
disappoint the hopes which are entertained of us, or 
to do any thing unworthy of the life we have hitherto 
been leading" 


Although these two saints were grieved because of 
their ordination, being penetrated with a sense of their 
own nothingness and the great dignity of the priest 
hood, the Church had cause to felicitate herself on 
acquiring such a treasure at a time when the faithful 
had need of powerful succor, to bear up against the 
violent persecutions of Julian the Apostate, and that 
of the Arians. They, indeed, resisted Julian with 
heroic firmness, in 362, in which year the persecution 
of that prince was at its height in Cappadocia. The 
account of those troubles may be seen at length in 
ecclesiastical history, but here it suffices to say that, 
notwithstanding all the threats and all the promises 
df that wicked monarch, ft --y scorned both his favor 
and his indignation. Julian, therefore, dreading theii 
eloquence and their erudition as the greatest obstacles 
to his design of establishing idolatrv on the rains of 


Christianity, proposed at length to immolate them the 
first to the pagan gods on his return from the Persian 
war, as the noblest victims he could offer. But God 
had decreed that he was never to return, and he died, 
as every one knows, in the course of the following 

This death was a sort of triumph for St. Basil, to 
whom God was pleased to reveal it at the very mo 
inent when it occurred, the saint being then at prayer. 
But at the same time God permitted his patience to 
be tried by another species of persecution, which was 
the less expected, as it came from Eusebius, his new 
bishop for who could have appeared more closely 
united with him than that prelate ? But, as we learn 
from St. Gregory Nazianzen, he was moved against 
him by human weakness, and it is conjectured that 
the glory which St. Basil had acquired through the 
lustre of his talents and virtues, and the unqualified 
admiration wherewith he was regarded by the entire 
city of Cesarea, made him obnoxious to the bishop, 
whose self-love was hurt, and his envy excited. 

He manifested this unworthy sentiment by treating 
St. Basil with the utmost rudeness on several occa 
sions, and he thereby gave offence to all the holiest 
and wisest of his church, the monks in particular, who 
could not tamely endure to see insult offered to a man 
who did such honor to their profession. Finally, the 
matter we~t so far, that the saint, fearing some dissen- 


sion between the pastor and his flock, took occasion to 
quit the city by stealth and return to his beloved re 
treat in Pontus, where he was followed by St. Gregory, 
and resumed the government of the monasteries he 
had there established. The people of Cesarea seeing 1 
that he did not return, sent to assure him how much 
they regretted his absence, and reminding him, with 
the hope of inducing him to return, that Cesarea was 
his native city and had, therefore, a strong claim upon 
his affection. He, however, modestly requested them 
(at the same time explaining the cause of his with 
drawing from the city,) to grant him yet a little time 
to enjoy the pleasure which he derived from the com 
pany of the saints, meaning St. Gregory and the 
monks of his monasteries. He manifested at the same 
time his zeal for their welfare, by admonishing them 
to beware lest the Arians, whom he calls the Philis 
tines, might disturb the serenity or tarnish the purity 
of their faith by their blasphemings, of which he 
makes an abridgement, and their calumnies, which he 

There is nothing particular known of his occupa 
tions during this second retreat. It is believed that 
he then assisted St. Gregory to prepare the two dis 
courses against Julian published by the latter about 
that time. It is not very likely, however, that St. Gre- 
gory then remained for any length of time with St. 
Basil, seeing that his father had so great need of bis 


assistance in the government of his diocese. Euselnm 
showed him great respect, and invited him to attend 
h~ assemblies ; but Gregory merely thanked him by 
fetter, and added that he must make free to tell him 
supposing that a lover of truth like Eusebius could not 
take offence thereat that the wrong he had done and 
was still doing to Basil touched him most sensibly ; 
that, as he had chosen him for a companion, to honor 
the one and abuse the other, was neither more nor 
less than caressing a person with one hand and giving 
him a blow with the other, conjuring him, in fine, to 
repair the injury he had done to Basil, and assuring 
him that he would find it no difficult task to conciliate 
his friend. He, at length, succeeded in bringing 
about this reconciliation between Eusebius and St. Basil, 
and made them once more good friends to the great 
joy of the whole city. 

And there never was a time when unanimity was 
more necessary amongst the pastors of the church ; 
for Jovian having lived but a short time, and Valens, 
the grand abettor of the Arians, having succeeded to 
him, the heretics waxed bolder under the protection of 
that prince, and they crowded into Cesarea with their 
errors and confusion. But St. Basil opposed them 
with so much courage, strength, and wisdom, that 
Valens and the Arian bishops who had accompanied 
him to Cesarea, were obliged to retire without having 
gained anything fo their sect, and having nothing for 


their pains but the disgrace of being overthrown by 

This took place about the year 366, after our saint 
had remained three years in his retreat in Pontus. It 
would be impossible to give an idea of all the good 
which he effected in Cesarea after the defeat of the 
heretics and their subsequent flight. His first care 
was to manage the mind of Eusebius so prudently as 
to banish therefrom every trace of suspicion and dis 
trust. He was continually near him ; instructing, 
warning, and obeying him ; rendering him, in fine, all 
the services of an excellent counsellor, an assistant 
ever ready at need, and an interpreter of the divine 
oracles; so that it might be said, that of all the min 
isters whom the bishop employed, Basil was the most 
faithful and the most efficient. This will suffice for 
us to s,iy of his conduct in Cesarea, as a more detailed 
account of this portion of his life would lead us away 
from our principal object, which is the connection of 
this great saint with monastic history. 

Eusebius died about the middle of the year 370, 
and it was a great consolation for him to breathe his 
last in the arms of St. Basil, who succeeded him in 
the government of his church, notwithstanding the 
exertions made by many ambitious and evil-rninded 
persons, even amongst the bishops, to prevent him from 
being elected. The church of Cesarea was at that 
time one of the most considerable, and St. Gregory 


speaks of it as the mother of all the churches. It 
was the metropolis of Cappadocia, and there are many 
of the learned who hold that it was the capital of all 
that country which the Romans called Pontus, that is 
to say, Cappadocia, Galatia, lesser Armenia, all the 
coast of Pontus, Paphlagonia, and Bithynia; which 
from the time of Theodoret comprised eleven provinces 
and more than the half of Asia Minor. It is not sur 
prising, therefore, that this bishoprick was an ohject of 
ambition to many ; but no one was so fit to govern it 
as the great St. Basil, whether we consider his personal 
merit, or the critical circumstances of the time, when 
it required a man of eminent sanctity, learning and 
ability to sustain the faith against the attacks of heresy. 
He fully justified the hopes of those who placed him 
there, the principal of whom were the elder Gregory, 
father of St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Eusebius of 
Samosata, whom the old bishop called in to support 
him in his choice by the weight of his reputation and 
his eminent merit. "Basil," says Gregory, "began 
now to surpass himself, as he had before surpassed 
others, and there were many occasions which called 
forth and displayed all the solidity of his faith, the 
fervor of his zeal and the extent of his devotion. The 
history of his episcopate would furnish matter for 
mere than one volume ; it may be seen, at length, in 
M. Hermant and M. de Tillemont, who have collected 
the most authentic monuments of ecclesiastical history 


We shall only, give here that portion of it which re 
lates to our particular subject. 

His conduct in the episcopate may be considered 
either in relation to the government of his own people, 
what he did for the adjacent provinces, or in his labors 

or the universal church, whether to maintain the 
purity of the faith, to reform the morals of the people, 
or to inspire, encourage, and perfect piety. He never 
dreamed that his own personal affairs ought to have 
a share in his pastoral solicitude; he thought of noth 
ing but promoting the glory of God and the salvation 
of souls. The revenues of his church did not prevent 
him from being poor, and he loved to feel the incon 
veniences of poverty in wanting what might be con 
sidered as the very necessaries of life to a prelate 
charged as he was, with much care and business. He 
all his life observed a rigorous fast, and it is impossible 

o describe the many diseases which he endured, the 
weakness to which he reduced his body by mortifica 
tion, and at the same time, the labors which he 
underwent in the worthy discharge of his duty, with 
out recognizing the mighty hand of the Lord who 
strengthened him by his grace and preserved his life, 
as it were by a miracle, for the good of his church. 
We can see no difference between St. Basil in his 
retreat and St. Basil in his episcopate, except that of 
rank and of ecclesiastical affairs : otherwise we find in 
him the same austerities, and the same virtues. 


We know the care which he took of his people by 
the frequent instructions which he gave them. Not 
content with preaching on Sundays and festivals, he 
sometimes gave instructions on week-days, either in 
the morning or evening, and it was quite a common 
occurrence to see even tradesmen thronging on those 
days to hear him. He had established various prac 
tices to maintain the piety of the people. " They 
come to the house of prayer," says he in one of his 
epistles, " before the dawn of day ; they make their 
confession with lively sorrow, great compunction, and 
torrents of tears. From prayer they pass to psalmody, 
and form themselves into two choirs, for the purpose 
of singing alternately : by this means they fortify 
themselves in meditation on the word of God, and 
prepare their souls in due recollection. One of them 
selves is appointed to commence what is to be sung, 
the others continue, and answer, &c. When the day 
light is come, all join in offering to God the psalm of 
confession as it were with one heart and one mouth, and 
each testifies his contrition in words proper to himself." 

He remarks, in another place, that his people were 
gone to pray in a church of the Martyrs from mid 
night till noon-day, occupied in adoring God and sing 
ing his praise, and that he himself, having gone to a 
more distant church to perform the liturgy, came 
there about noan, and explained to them the 114th 
Psalm. II- [<>!-. us in one of his letters, that frequent 


communion was common in his church. " It is good," 
says he, " and useful, to communicate every day, since 
Jesus Christ has expressly said that he who eateth his 
flesh and drinketh his blood, shall have eternal life. 
Who can doubt, therefore, that the more we partici 
pate in this bread of life, the more share we shall have 
in his life ? Hence it is that people here communi 
cate four times in the week, on Sunday, Wednesday, 
Friday and Saturday, and also on other days when 
we are celebrating the feast of a Martyr." 

To these special affairs of his episcopal city. St. 
Basil added the visits which he made to the country 
parishes, and this notwithstanding his extreme debility 
and failing health. But God indemnified him for his 
sufferings and privations by the blessings which ho 
poured upon his labors. Not the least of these was 
the many letters he had to write, now consoling some 
in their afflictions, now exhorting others to persevere 
in piety, and to others on various subjects connected 
with their spiritual interest. He also advised his 
people in their temporal affairs, according as charity 
required. Being tiieir bishop, he looked upon him 
self as their father and their pastor, and fulfilled with 
all possible tem>*ness, the duties of those characters. 

It appeared with lustre in the magnificent asylum 
which he founded for the poor, the sick, and princi 
pally for lepers. It was a building, or rather a group 
of buildings, which St. Gregory mentions as a new 


town. He describes it as being a little out from the 
city, and says that it was a common treasury whereto 
the exhortations of St. Basil had gathered in not only 
from the superfluity of the rich, but also from the 
moderate means of the poorer classes. " It is there," 
adds the saint, " where sickness is even joyfully borne, 
where misery itself appears happy, and where charity 
is proved and tested." The fact is, that according to 
the plan marked out by St. Basil, this was to be an 
asylum for all those whose infirmities or poverty made 
them require assistance, and even for the reception of 
strangers. There were means of accommodation for 
all those persons who were necessary for the comfort 
and relief of the sick ; physicians, nurses, people for 
carrying burdens, others to wait upon the infirm, 
craftsmen of all the different trades, and workshops 
for each particular craft. Theodoret remarks that 
the saint, who often visited the institution, took spe 
cial care of the lepers, and that his charity for them 
went so far as to make him embrace them as his dear 
orothers, unmindful of his birth and station. This 
hospital was famous for long after, and was called the 
Basiliad, from the name of its founder. It must 
have been commenced about the year 371 or 372. 
Besides this one, there were several smaller asylums 
Bcattered over the country for the sick and infirm 01 
the towns and villages, and these were subject to tbe 
Inspection of the vicars. 


His attention was no lew directed to the providing 
of good pastors for the church, and to preserve the 
clergy in edifying regularity. He had several vicars 
to govern under him in the various districts of his 
diocese, and he sometimes brought them together at 
the feast of St. Eupsyquis. He renewed the canons 
of the Fathers, whereby the vicars were to apprise the 
bishop of those whom they wished to place in the 
rank of ecclesiastics, a rule which had been for some 
time neglected ; and he ordered his vicars to send him 
the names of all the ecclesiastics, the village to which 
they belonged, by whom they had been admitted, 
what was their profession, and he decreed that those 
who should have been only admitted by priests since 
the first indiction, that is to say since 358, were to be 
excluded from the clergy by the vicars, who had, 
nevertheless, the power of retaining them if they were 
found worthy, after a careful examination. We mav 
judge, by this exactness in the choice of the inferior 
ministers, with what extreme caution he acted, in the 
ordination of deacons and priests. 

It was this attention which filled his church with 
excellent priests, and obtained for his clergy a reputa 
tion worthy of their bishop. This was manifested on 
a certain occasion when Innocent, bishop of a large 
city whose name is not given, being a considerable 
distance from Cesarea, though still in the east, wish 
ing to have his successor appointed before his deatfc 


for he was very old, wrote to ask the saint for an 
ecclesiastic whom he named, in order to make him 
his successor. St. Basil, who knew the importance of 
a suitable choice, wrote in reply that the person men 
tioned had indeed many good qualities, but not so 
many as to qualify him for filling his seat. He then 
cast his eyes over the priests of his city, and selected 
one who was advanced in years, and whom he styles 
a precious vessel and a child of the blessed Hermo- 
genes ; a man capable of sustaining the weight of the 
episcopacy, of a venerable aspect, fit to instruct with 
becoming mildness those who opposed the truth, 
grave in his manners, learned in the canons, pure in 
his faith, strict in observing the rules of chastity and 
the practices of religious exercises, and totally detached 
from the things of this world. This man he offered 
to the bishop at what time soever he might require 
him. Whereupon it has been judiciously remarked, 
that he would never have done so had he not had 
other priests of similar virtue and similar merit. lie 
had, in fact, amongst his clergy, Meleces, whom he 
calls his co-operator in the duties of his office ; Pe- 
menes, his own kinsman, of whom he makes honorable 
mention in one of his letters ; Philosomus, spoken of 
by Paladins in his Lausiac, as having generously con 
fessed his faith before Julian the Apostate. 

We shall not attempt to follow St. Basil in all that 
he effected during his episcopate : it may be seen ic 


detail in the writings of St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. 
Gregory of Nyssa, the historians of the church, and 
lastly in the works of Hermant and; cle Tillemont. 
Finally, after a long series of cares,, episcopal solicitude, 
instructions, dogmatic writings, contests with the here 
tics, toils and persecutions endured with heroic v forti- 
tude ; after a life ever pure, yet ever penitentia,!, ever 
crossed with contradiction and opposition and ever 
adorned with resplendent virtue, the frequent mala 
dies which he had suffered brought on that hour which 
was to terminate this glorious career of sanctity. 

In the year 377, the Goths, whom the emperor 
Valens had received as friends in Thrace, and who 
from Catholics had, consequently, become Arians, 
took up arms against him, God having disposed it so 
that they whose faith he had corrupted should be 
made the instruments of his punishment. They de 
feated him near Adrianople, on the 9th of August in 
the following year, and burned him in a cabin where 
he had taken shelter. His death caused a great 
change in the affairs of the church. Gratian, the 
nephew of Valens, a prince full of zeal for the catholic 
faith, and being already emperor of the West, now 
succeeded to the throne of t}ie East. He recalled all 
the orthodox bishops who had been banished by hia 
uncle, and put a stop, as far as he could, to the dis 
turbances caused by the Arians. St. Basil thus saw 
his desires accomplished, and, like the holy old maa 



Simeon, it seemed that he could ask of God to let 
him depart in peace, since he had had the consolation 
of seeing the commencement of that of the churcl.. 
That final favor was at length vouchsafed to him on 
the first day of the year 379, and it was accompanied 
by a new miracle equal to any yet performed by him; 
though being scarcely half alive, he would go to the 
church to take his leave of it, and to lend his assist 
ance in the consecration of some of his most faithful 
disciples, " to the end," says St. Gregory Nazianzen, 
" that the altar might have those whom he had him 
self prepared for its ministry, and who had been the as 
sistants and co-operators of his priesthood. The infer 
ence is that he ordained several of his ecclesiastics, and 
appointed them to bishopricks within his jurisdiction, 
profiting by the liberty which the death of Valens gave 
to the church to fill with Catholic bishops those sees 
which had none. 

At length his final hour arrived, and multitudes of 
the citizens thronged around his house, overwhelmed 
with grief, each one feeling for his own loss. It would 
seem as though they sought by their tears and lamen- 
tsiticjss to retain the soul of their bishop within its 
mortal tenement ; but choirs of angels were already 
waiting for him who had so long sighed for their 
company. So, having given some last instructions to 
those about him, he finished his mortal course witb 
hose words of our blessed Lord to his eternal Father 


"Into thy hands I commend my spirit," joyfulh 
giving up his soul, in or about the fiftieth year of his 

One of the finest eulogiums that could be composed 
for St. Basil, is given by St. Gregory in a few words : 
it is that when he died he carried with him all that 
he possessed of earthly things, for he left not even as 
much wealth as would provide a decent monument to 
cover his remains. But that did not prevent his 
obsequies from being of the most magnificent kind. 
The multitude of people who followed him to the 
grave was prodigious : every one hastened to touch 
his body or to secure a shred of the hem of his gar 
ment ; the streets, the squares, the galleries, the 
houses, to the second and third stories were filled with 
spectators. Tears and lamentations mingled with the 
sound of psalmody. The whole city was in mourning ; 
pagans, Jews, and foreigners mingled with the Catho 
lics and citizens, even vicing with them in showing 
honor to the departed prelate ; finally, after a difficult 
passage through the dense multitudes, the body of the 
saint was deposited in the tomb of the bishops, his 

We must now return to St. Gregory Nazianzen, 
from whom we have digressed in order to follow the 
brilliant career of St. Basil. We left him in the soli 
tude of Pontus with Cesarius. He was not permitted 
to remain long there, being recalled by his father, and 


he, too, Lad his full share of cares and tril illations, 
On the one side, he was obliged to assist his father in 
the government of his church, he being now very old, 
and on the other hand, he had to advise and direct 
his mother in certain domestic affairs, particularly the 
uccession of his brother Cesarius, who died in the 
end of the year 368, or the beginning of 369. His 
health was likewise very indifferent, and he was sub 
ject to severe fits of sickness, so that he was not with 
out his crosses ; but then they are the appendages of 
the friends of God. St. Gregory bore them as became 
his piety, till there suddenly came one which was tho 
"less expected as St. Basil himself was the innocent 
cause thereof, he having still but the glory of God in 
view. Cappadocia which, down to the year 370 had 
formed but one province ecclesiastical and civil, was 
then divided into two in the latter department. Ce- 
sarea remained the metropolis of the first, and the city 
of Tyanes became the capital of the second. Anthy- 
mus, who was bishop of Tyanes, pretended that tho 
province was divided ecclesiastically as well as civilly, 
and took unto himself the rights of a metropolitan 
over the churches contained in what was called the 
jit cond Cappadocia. 

St. Basil opposed him, and, in order to preserve his 
diocese as it had been transmitted to him, lie erected 
some new ^ees, among? t others that of Sasimes, a 
small town situated on one of the main roads :f Cap 


padocia, and there he wished to place St. Gregory 
Nazianzen to defend it against Anthymus, who had a 
design upon it. "St. Gregory, who loved peace and 
tranquillity, and sighed only for retirement, was very 
much grieved by this appointment, and only yielded 
to St. Basil with a very bad grace, and at the special 
bidding of his father ; this was towards the middle of 
the year 372. Going to take possession of his new 
church, he found it in the hands of Anthymus, and 
having no mind to wrest it from him by force, he 
quietly retired to a mountain hard by. 

He was not long to enjoy renose ; his father con 
jured him to return, and he only obeyed on condition 
that he was not to go to Sasimes, but merely to gov 
ern the church of Nazianzen under his father, without 
any engagement for the future. He acquitted himself 
of that duty with the zeal which might be expected 
of him, until the year 374, when he lost his father, 
who was nearly an hundred years old, and almost at 
the same time, St. Nonna his mother, who was nearly 
as old as her husband. Although he had intended to 
return to his solitude immediately after their death, 
he was prevailed on by the importunities of many 
persons, and especially of Bosphorus, bishop of Colo- 
nia, to change his resolution. Still he would only 
consent to govern the church of Nazianzen provision 
ally, and not as titular, (a measure which was not 
without precedent,) until such time as the bishops 


could select i fitting pastor for the flock, \vhich lie 
earnestly entreated them to do. 

Finally, when he had been petitioning them fot 
upwards of three years, alleging as a reason his broken 
health, which unfitted him to fulfill the duties of his 
office (and this he really believed for he had been 
(-jven dangerously ill) ; seeing that his solicitations 
were ineffectual, he secretly retired to Seleucia, and it 
does not appear that Nazianzen had a bishop again 
till 381, when our saint himself returned, after the 
council of Constantinople, as we shall soon relate. 
Seleucia was the metropolis of Isauria ; the relics of 
the illustrious saint Tfcecla were religiously preserved 
there in a church bearing her name, whence it is that 
St. Gregory calls it Seleucia of St. Thecla. He 
made a long stay there, most probably till 379. It was 
there that, having renounced glory, riches, -worldly 
expectations, and even science, taking no other nour 
ishment than a little bread, he sought to rise above 
visible things in order to occupy himself solely witb 
things celestial, and he tasted the innocent delights of 
a life remote from the troubles of the world. Still ho 
found his cross even there, as well "in the attacks of 
the heretics, as in the heavy sorrow which rent his 
heart to see the misfortunes brought by the Arians in 
376 on the church of Cappadocia ; whereupon he 
wrote several letters to St. Gregory of Nyssa, predict- 
ing, however, the end of the persecution, which SOOD 


after took place, in consequence of the death of Valens. 
Gratian, who succeeded him, having commenced, as 
\ve have said, to give peace to the Church, our saint 
began to breathe more freely ; but the death of St 
Basil, which soon after occurred, plunged him again 
into sorrow, all the greater because he could not 
even have the consolation of beholding his precious re 
mains, not being yet quite recovered from his recent 

Gratian, having thus given peace to the Church, on 
*he 19th of January, 379, he resigned the empire of 
the East to Theodosius the Great, a truly Catholic 
prince, and full of zeal for the promotion of religion. 
The point now was to re-establish the faith of Nice in 
Constantinople, where the Arians had so long made 
fearful havoc. Being absolute masters there, they 
had exercised their power to the full extent of their 
hatred, against the orthodox. There was no disgrace 
or no opprobrium too heavy to cast upon them. They 
were loaded with contumely and threats of every kind ; 
their wealth was taken from them, and their property 
confiscated ; they were sent into exile, and many of 
them, too, were publicly massacred, even bishops and 
aged men. It was only the Catholics who were bereft 
of liberty, and they found themselves exposed to all 
imaginable evils. St. Gregory also says that the 
church of St. Sophia, which was the principal church, 
might be called the -devil s citadel, seeing that he had 


retired thither, and made it a garrison for his soldiers 
There assembled the whole army of falsehood and the 
legions of impure spirits, and the cohorts of the furies ; 
for this latter name might be well applied to the 
Arian women, who were so carried away by fanaticism 
that they became, as it were, so many Jezabels. 

Nor was this the only evil which weighed down tho 
Imperial city. The Novations had several churches 
there ; the heresy of the Macedonians, who denied the 
divinity of the Holy Ghost, was making rapid pro 
gress ; the Apollonarists began to assume a formida 
ble aspect, and the Eunomians had a bishop there ; but 
still the Arians were the most powerful. Thus the 
true faith was almost buried beneath the fetid mass of 
infidelity and heresy ; still it lived and flourished in 
the hearts of a small number of the faithful, who 
formed, as it were, a little flock without order, without 
a pastor, without fence or inclosure to protect them. 
The reputation of Gregory s learning and piety, which 
had crossed the seas of Asia, and heightened by the 
praise of St. Eusebius of Samosata, induced the Catho 
lics of Constantinople to call him thither, their prayer 
being seconded by the bishops of the adjacent districts, 
and by those of Thrace, together with St. Meleces, 
Bosphorus of Colonia, another bishop of Cappadocia, 
named Theodore, and finally St. Basil had himself re 
quested him to go there. He was even blamed for so 
long postponing his departure, as we see by the rear 


which he gives in some of his letters for not hav 
ing gone sooner to Constantinople. 

He arrived there in 379, and the gift of miracles 
followed him there, but his chief support was the 
assistance of Jesus Christ, for whose glory he was to 
contend. The manner of his entrance into that second 
Rome proves this, as well as his humility. He says 
that his purpose must have appeared no less extraor 
dinary than that of David when he opposed Goliath ; 
that there could be no man more contemptible in the 
eyes of the world than he ; that he was not only a 
stranger, but a native of a paltry hamlet ; that he was 
bent with sickness and old age ; his head bald, and 
always bowed down ; his face unprepossessing, being 
furrowed with the channels of his tears, emaciated by 
his continued austerities, and withered with fear of the 
judgments of God ; that his speech was rude and 
unpolished, his garments of the humblest kind, and 
that he had no more money than he had wings." 

He was received, on his arrival, in the house of some 
of his kindred, who were no less akin to him in the 
spirit of piety. The Catholics (having no place where 
in to assemble, a chapel was fitted up in the house 
already mentioned, which in process of time became a 
church of great grandeur and magnificence, through 
the additions made to it by the Emperors. It was 
called Anastasia or the Resurrection, because the true 
(VJth, which had been all but extinct in Constantinople, 


l>egan thu-e to revive. There it was that this great 
doctor vigorously opposed the heretics, preserved 
Catholics from the contagion of their errors, explained 
the doctrine of the church, and directed the people 
according to the laws of the Gospel. 

He particularly warned the faithful against a snare 
laid for them by the heretics, which was the desire to 
penetrate with their own mind the sublimity of our 
mysteries, and to judge of their truth by human rea 
son. Thence they piqued themselves on speaking ir. 
a captious and sophistical manner, by way of passing 
it off for elevation of mind, and seeking to dazzle the 
weak, they entangled them in their errors. They also 
spoke of religion in private and social meetings, at 
table during meals, and on all similar occasions. 
Nothing was more indecorous or more unseasonable ; 
and it was also exceedingly dangerous, because the 
heretics were everywhere, and everywhere tried to 
insinuate their venom. 

The saint thereupon set the faithful right, advising 
them not to enter into any disputes on the subject of 
religion, showing them that every one is not called 
upon to speak on such subjects, and that it should not 
be done at all times, in all places, nor before all sorts 
of persons, nor should any one seek to penetrate what 
is beyond the reach of human reason. He thereupon 
gave them this fair maxim : " There are," says he, 
u occasions when we may listen ; there are others 


tfhen we may speak ; but there are others when feai 
should hold us in suspense and prevent us from either 
speaking or listening. It is true that it is less danger 
ous to hear than to speak ; but it is far safer to withdraw 
altogether from the contest than to stay and listen,** 
This was an excellent preservative against the conver 
sation of the heretics ; but, lest it might be thought 
that he was unable to defend the truths of faith which 
he wished others to believe, he made four excellent 
discourses, explanatory of the doctrine of the church 
with regard to the Trinity, and completely annihila 
ting the false reasoning of the heretics. It was these 
discourses which obtained for him the surname of 
the Theologian. 

The principal object of his preaching was the de 
fence of the faith, and the refutation of heresy. The 
state of the city required this ; but still he did not so 
entirely devote himself to it, as to neglect the morals 
of his own people. He gave them for a rule, that 
true piety did not consist in talking incessantly, and 
without proper judgment of the things of religion, but 
in observing the commandments of God, giving alms, 
practising hospitality, visiting the sick, praying, sor 
rowing for sin, mortifying the senses, repressing anger, 
moderating mirth, keeping guard on the tongue, sub 
duing the body and the mind, &c. If the eloquence 
which he employed in his discourses were the fruit of 
his study of profane authors, he had ennobled it by 


the reading of the sacred books, and, as he said him 
self, by the vivifying word , which is that of the 

People ran in crowds to listen, and they sometime 
even forced the balustrade of the choir in order to 
hear him more distinctly. There were no heretics of 
any sect whatsoever, nor even pagans, who did not list 
en to him with pleasure, some to imbibe his doctrin*, 
others attracted by his eloquence, and by all he was 
heard with unqualified admiration. 

But the most efficient preaching was that of his 
example. He was rarely seen in public places ; he 
stopped not to discourse on indifferent topics with 
all sorts of people, and his conversation was always 
grave and serious. Although he did not wish to re 
fuse the invitations of those who asked him to their 
houses, he would prefer at any time to displease them 
bv refusing, rather than avail himself too often of 
their hospitality. He retrenched all useless visiting, 
find usually remained at home, having no other conver 
sation than his own. It was there that he passed the 
nights, either in communing alone with Jesus Christ, 
or singing psalms and hymns alternately with others. 
He took great delight in prostrating himself before 
God, and in his presence shedding torrents of tears 
for his sins. He macerated his body by his austerities 
mid in the oblation of the august sacrifice of our altars, 
he offered himself to God in union with Jesus Christ 


What tended very much to gain for him the afFeo 
tlon of the people of Constantinople was, that they 
saw in him nsither precipitation, nor importunity, 
nor violence, nor ostentation, nor vanity ; whereas 
they saw him, on the other hand, modest, humble, 
retired in his habits, and like a hermit in the midst of 
men, leading the life of a philosopher, but of a truly 
Christian one. Then the example of such eminent 
piety, together with his powerful eloquence, reduced 
the heretics to silence, and did much to promote the 
interests of religion. These effects were so much the 
more important there, because Constantinople was re 
garded as the link between the East and West, and 
as the source whence the faith spread abroad on 
every side. 

It must not, however, be imagined that this favorable 
result was the effect of the plaudits which he received. 
They were the fruits of his patience and of his labors ; 
and it was the will of God that such should be the 
crown of the persecutions he had to bear from the 
heretics. In feet, he had no sooner appeared in the 
city than all the sects, who had before -been Dickering 
amongst themselves, formed a grand junction to op 
pose him. They tore him in pieces in their sermons 
and in their speeches ; and after having attacked him 
personally by calumny, they fell on his flock like ra 
ging wolves. Fanaticism even excited apostate 
monks, profligate women, ir prudent damsels, and 


l.oorgnrs whom their fury rendered truly pitiable; ah 
these allies flocked to the Anastasia, at the time when 
l; ;>tism was being administered, which might be on 
I lie evening of Easter day which in that year, 379, 
Ml on the 21st of April and penetrating even to the 
sanctuary, they profaned the altar by their sacrileges, 
dashed down the sacred vessels, and placed in tho 
pulpit their own idol; that is to say, their bishop, 
Pemophilus. To these excesses succeeded wine, 
dnncing, and works of darkness unfit to be named 
They directed all their insults against the saint him 
self and the ministers of the Church. They threw 
stones at them, wounded some, and killed others ; and 
one zealous Catholic was beaten to death with clubs 
in the midst of the city. Nor did the persecution end 
there ; every imaginable outrage was inflicted on the 
faithful, who were driven from their houses, and even 
from the solitudes wherein they had taken shelter. 
St. Gregory was apprehended as a malefactor, and 
brouqht before the prefects, who conspired with the 
people against him, and treated him very hardly, al 
though without the consent of, and even contrary to 
the intentions of the emperors : but Jesus Christ pro 
tected him, and brought him forth gloriously from 
this severe trial. 

The emperor Theodosius having at length arrived 
iti Constantinople from Macedonia, on the 24th No 
vember, 380, greeted St. Gregory with the warmest 


tokens of esteem, and welcomed him to the Imperial 
city. In that first interview the saint solicited per 
mission to retire from Constantinople ; but the em 
peror told him : " God makes use of my agency tc 
grant you this church. The whole city demands it, 
and could not, it seems to me, be persuaded to any 
thing else : the people are even disposed to compel 
me to this step, in case I refused ; but they know very 
well that there is no compulsion necessary they 
know that I desire it as ardently as they do them 

The emperor sent a message on the same day to 
Demophilus, Bishop of the Arians, to know whether 
he would embrace the faith of Xice, and thus re 
unite the people in the same belief; and upon his re 
fusing to do so, he commanded him to give up ali 
\he churches, which were at once restored to the 
Catholics. The Arians had taken possession of them 
forty years before, when Eusebius usurped the see 
of the bishop, St. Paul, in 339. The faithful were 
loud in their applause for this act of Theodosius, and 
they thought they might safely venture to ask him 
for St. Gregory as their bishop, protesting that it waa 
the greatest favor he could confer upon them. The 
saint, overwhelmed with fear, could hardly speak, so 
great was his terror lest the public clamor should 
suoeeed. He sent to beg the people to desist, repre 
senting to them that the only thing then needful wai 


to ft- turn thanks to God, and that every other mattet 
could be postponed. The people admired his mod 
esty, as did Theodosius himself, who at once gave him 
possession of the Episcopal house, the ecclesiastical 
revenues, and all the churches of the city. Gregory 
refused, on the first day, to ascend the Episcopal 
throne, but it seems that he was forcibly placed 
thereon some days after. The heretics were so exas 
perated against him that they sought to take his 
life. One young man did actually attempt to assas 
sinate him, but God did not permit him to succeed : 
on the contrary, he became his own accuser, and 
threw himself at the feet of the saint, confessing the 
atrocious design which he had entertained. St. 
Gregory forgave him, and admitted him to his friend 
ship a fact which tended no little to increase the 
i-steem and veneration in which he was held. Al 
though he might have prosecuted the heretics, and 
brought them to condign punishment through the fa 
vor of Theodosius, he only made use of the mildest 
means to win them over, hoping that his moderation 
would mollify them, and render them more open tc 
conviction. Such was the course pursued by him on 
an occasion so auspicious for the Catholics, and so mor 
tifying to the Arians. 

His conduct during the short time that he gov 
erned the Church of Constantinople, might w^U be 
proposed as a model to form the greatest prelates. 


His disinterestedness in the administration of t]ie rev 
enues of his church was such, that he would never 
profit by them, although they were very great. He 
took particular care of the poor, of monks, virgins, 
strangers, prisoners, citizens, and of all persons who 
made a particular profession of piety. He commis 
sioned certain persons to watch over the wants of 
these respective classes. He encouraged the singing 
of psalms, and of vigils spent in prayers and tears. Fi 
nally, by his cares, his exhortations, his discourses so 
full of apostolic force, his vigilance, his vows and lam 
entation before God, he drew down so many blessings 
on his people, that true faith and solid piety became 
triumphant in every state of life. Services so essen 
tial deserved to have been more fully recognized than 
they were by the bishops who met in the second cecu- 
menic council ; but God reserved the full reward of 
his servant s works for heaven. 

The emperor Theodosius having put the Catholics 
in possesion of the churches of Constantinople, decreed 
by letter that all the bishops of his dominions should 
assemble in that city to confirm the faith of Nice, to 
establish a bishop in the Imperial city, and to secure 
that peace which it was beginning to enjoy. 

One hundred and fifty bishops assembled there at 
that time, including those from Egypt aad from 
Macedonia, who were not in A ime for the opening. 
St. Gregory was then formally established as Bishop 


of Constantinople, to the great satisfaction of the em 
peror, of the holiest bishops of the council, and of 
others also, at least in appearance. It was only he 
himself who dissented ; but he was placed on tho 
Episcopal throne, notwithstanding his earnest and 
even tearful remonstrances. Nevertheless, there soon 
after turned up some affairs amongst the bishops 
which so disgusted the saint with his new dignity, 
that he absolutely demanded permission to resign it 
and withdraw from the city. We may see iu the ec 
clesiastical writers his reasons for this step, but here a 
detail of them would be a useless digression. Nec- 
tairus was, therefore, installed in his place ; and as a 
deer escapes from the toils, so did Gregory escape 
from Constantinople to refresh himself in retirement 
after the labors he had endured, and the many trials 
to which the envy of certain bishops had subjected 
him. lie went then to Nazianzen ; but even there 
repose was not all at once to be had. On the 
contrary, he had the affliction of seeing that church in 
the position of a ship tossed about at sea, without a 
pilot having no bishop, and being almost subjugated 
by the Apollonarists, who were seeking to secure it 
for themselves. He tried in vain to place a bishop 
there, and being unable to take charge of it himself, 
because of his bad health, he retired to the estate of 
Arianzen, which he had inherited from his father, for 
the purpose of restoring his health. This was about 


the year 381 or 382 ; but even there he did not remain 
altogether idle, for he wrote several letters, especially 
for the support of the faith in Nazianzen, where the 
Apolonarists had gone so far as to establish a bishop of 
their own sect. St. Gregory was, therefore, forced 
by the chief men of that city and by the bulk of the 
people to go there himself, their love for him being 
now seconded by their fear of those heretics. 

His humility, which never forsook him, joined to 
his many infirmities, made him regard the weight of 
that church as far beyond his strength ; and he finally 
succeeded in obtaining the appointment of a bishop, 
Eulalins, his cousin and his disciple. Thus, seeing 
himself at last free to think only of God and his own 
salvation, he retired to the country for the remainder 
uf his life. .He there led a monastic life, with some 
other solitaries. " I live," said he, " amongst the 
rocks and surrounded by wild beasts ; my dwelling is 
A cavern where I live all alone ; I have but one habit, 
and I have neither shoes nor fire ; I live only on hope; 
[ am the scorn and opprobrium of men ; I sleep only on 
straw ; I am clad in linen ; my floor is moistened with 
ths tears I continually shed." All this did not pre 
vent some persons, of the stamp of Maximus the 
Cynic (who had a philosophical exterior, and mocked 
he austerities of the true religious) from reproaching 
him for this mode of living, as though it had been 
JOG luxurious am too effeminate : to these he replied 


in a little poem which he composed on tha occaa- 
si on. 

Ho indeed wrote several poems, for he excelled in 
poetry, and his verse is as much admired for its elo 
quence as his prose ; but he employed this double 
gift only for the glory of God, to whom he had con 
secrated his affections and his works. Much more 
might be said of the deeds and writings of this great 
saint ; but we refer our readers to those who have 
treated of his life at full length, and to the ecclesiastical 
historians, and pass on to his happy death. God had 
insensibly prepared him for his end by frequent ail 
ments of various kinds, and he awaited it in his solitude 
calmly and hopefully. We know not the particular 
circumstances of his death. St. Jerome says that he 
was nearly three years dead when he made his cata 
logue of ecclesiastical authors, in 392 ; so he must 
have died in 389 or at the beginning of 390, in the 
sixtieth or sixty-first year of his age, if he were born. 
as it is thought, in 329. 

The Latin Church celebrates his festival on the 
9th of May. The Greeks honor him on the 30th of 
January, with St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom, 
and by himself on the 25th of the same month. 
His body was tranferred from Nazianzen to Constan- 
tiople by order of Constantine Porphyrogenetus, 
and deposited in the church of the Apostles, near 
the altar and the body of St. John Chrysostom, 


It was conveyed thence to Rome, and placed beneath 
the altar of the church of the Virgin, on the Campus 
?tfartins, in 1505, whence Pope Gregory XIII. had 
it. solemnly taken, on the llth of June. 1582, to a 
arire chapel which he had placed under the invoca 
tion of that saint, in the church of St. Peter, and the 
next day had it inclosed under the altar. The feast 
of this translation is marked in the Roman Martyrologj 
on the llth of June. 



From Socrates, Theodoret, and other historians. 

THIS incomparable doctor, on account of the fluency 
and sweetness of his eloquence, obtained soon aftei 
his death the surname of Chrysostom, or Golder 
Mouth, which we find given him by St. Ephrem of 
Antioch, Theodoret, and Cassiodorus. But his tendei 
piety, and his undaunted courage and zeal in the 
cause of virtue, are titles far more glorious, by which 
he holds an eminent place among the greatest pastor? 
and saints cf the church. About the year 344. ao 
ccrding to F Stilting, .Antioch the capitaJ city of tbt 


East, was ennobled by his illustrious birth. He h*d 
one elder sister, and was the only son and heir of 
Secundus, master of the horse, that is, chief com 
mander of the imperial troops in Syria. His mother, 
Anthusa, left a widow at twenty years of age, contin 
ued such the remainder of her life, dividing her time 
between the care of her family and the exercises of 
devotion. Her example in this respect made such an 
impression on our saint s master, a celebrated pagan 
sophist, that he could not forbear crying out, "What 
wonderful women have the Christians!" She man 
aged the estate of her children with great prudence 
and frugality, knowing this to be part of her duty to 
God, but she was. sensible that their spiritual instruc 
tion in virtue was of infinitely greater importance. 
From their cradle she instilled into them the most 
perfect maxims of piety, and contempt of the world. 
The ancient Romans dreaded nothing more in the 
education of youth, than their being ill taught the 
first principles of the sciences ; it being more difficult 
to unlearn the errors then imbibed, than to begin on a 
mere tabula rasa, or blank paper. Wherefore Anthusa 
provided her son the ablest masters in every branch 
of literature, which the empire at that time afforded. 
Eloquence was esteemed the highest accomplishment, 
especially among the nobility, and was the surest 
means of raising men to the first dignities in the state. 
John studied that art under Libanius, the most famous 


orator of that age; and such was his proficiency, that 
even in his youth he excelled his masters. Libaniua 
being asked by his pagan friends on his death-bed, 
nbout the year 390, who should succeed him hi his 
school : " John," said he, " had not the Christians 
stolen him from us." Our saint was then priest, 
While he was only a scholar, that sophist one day 
read to an assembly of orators a declamation composed 
by him, and it was received with unusual tokens of 
admiration and applause. Libanius pronounced the 
young orator happy, " as were also the emperors/ he 
said, " who reigned at a time when the world was pos 
sessed of so great a treasure." The progress of the 
young scholar in philosophy, under Andragatius, was 
no less rapid and surprising ; his genius shone in every 
disputation. All this time his principal care was to 
study Christ, and to learn his spirit. He laid a solid 
foundation of virtue, by a perfect humility, self-denial, 
and a complete victory over himself. Though natu 
rally hot and inclined to anger, he had extinguished 
all emotions of passion in his breast. His modesty, 
meekness, tender charity, and singular discretion, ren 
dered him the delight of all he conversed with. 

The first dignities of the empire were open to John. 
But his principal desire was to dedicate himself to 
Kod, without reserve, in holy solitude. However, not 
being yet twenty years of age, he for some time 
Dleaded at the bar. In that employment he wa* 


drawn by company into the diversions of the world, 
and sometimes assisted at the entertainments of the 
stage. His virtue was in imminent danger of splitting 
against that fatal rock, when God opened his eyes, 
Tie was struck with horror at the sight of the prec: 
pice upon the brink of which he stood ; and not con 
tent to flee from it himself, he never ceased to bewail 
his blindness, and took every occasion to caution the 
faithful against that lurking place of hellish sirens, but 
more particularly in his vehement sermons against the 
stage. Alarmed at the danger he had narrowly es 
caped, full of gratitude to God his deliverer, and to 
prevent the like danger for the time to come, he was 
determined to carry his resolution of renouncing the 
world into immediate execution. He began by the 
change of his garb, to rid himself the more easily of 
the importunities of friends : for a penitential habit is 
not only a means for preserving a spirit of mortification 
and humility, but is also a public sign and declaration 
to the world, that a person has turned his back on its 
vanities, and is engaged in an irreconcilable war against 
them. His clothing was a coarse gray coat ; he 
watched much, fasted every day, and spent the greater 
part of his time in prayer and meditation on the holy 
scriptures : his bed was no other than the hard floor. 
In subduing his passions, he found none of so difficult 
a conquest as vain-glory ; this enemy he disarmed by 
embracing every kind of public humiliation. The 


tlamors of his old friends and admirers, who were in 
censed at his leaving them, and pursued him with 
their invectives and censures, were as arrows shot at 
random. John took no manner of notice of them : 
he rejoiced in contempt, and despised the frowns of a 
world whose flatteries he dreaded : Christ crucified 
was the only object of his heart, and nothing could 
make him look back after he had put his hand to the 
plough. And his progress in virtue was answerable 
to his zealous endeavors. 

St. Meletius, bishop of Antioch, called the young 
ascetic to the service of the church, gave him suitable 
instructions, during three years, in his own palace, and 
ordained him Reader. John had learned the art of 
silence, in his retirement, with far greater application 
than he had before studied that of speaking. This 
he discovered when lie appeared again in the world, 
though no man ever possessed a greater fluency of 
speech, or. a more ready and enchanting eloquence, 
joined with the most solid judgment and a rich fund 
of knowledge and good sense ; yet in company he 
observed a modest silence, and regarded talkativeness 
as an enemy to the interior recollection of the heart, 
as a source of many sins and indiscretions, and as a 
mark of vanity and self-conceit. He heard the words 
tt" the wise with the humble docility of a scholar, and 
he bore the impertinence, trifles, and blunders of fools 
in discourse, not to interrupt the attention of his sou I 


to God, or to make an ostentatious show of his elo 
quence or science : yet with spiritual persons he con 
versed freely on heavenly things, especially with a 
pious friend named Basil, one of the same age and 
inclinations with himself, who had been his most be 
loved school-fellow, and who forsook the world to em 
brace a monastic life, a little before our saint. After 
three years, he left the bishop s house to satisfy the 
importunities of his mother, but continued the same 
manner of life in her, during the space of two 
years. He still saw frequently his friend Basil, and 
he prevailed on two of his school-fellows under Liba- 
nius to embrace an ascetic life ; Theodorus, afterwards 
bishop of Mopsuestia, and Maximus, bishop of Seleucia. 
The former returned in a short time to the bar, and 
fell in love with a young lady called Hermione. John 
lamented his fall with bitter tears before God, and 
brought him back to his holy institute by two tender 
and pathetic exhortations to penance, " which breathe 
an eloquence above the power of what seems merely 
human," says Sozomen. Not long after, hearing that 
the bishops of the province were assembled at Anti- 
och, and deliberated to raise him and Basil to the 
episcopal dignity, he privately withdrew, and lay hid 
till the vacant sees were filled. Basil was made bishop 
of Raphanaea near Antioch; and had no other re 
source in his grief for his promotion, but in tears and 
complaints against h. friend who had betrayed him 


into so perilous a charge. John, being then twenty- 
six years old, wrote to him in his own justification six 
incomparable books, Of the Priesthood. 

Four years after, in 374, he retired into the moun 
tains near Antioch, among certain holy anchorets 
who peopled them, and whose manner of life is thus 
described by our saint : They devoted all the morn 
ing to prayer, pious reading, and meditating on the 
holy scriptures. Their food was bread, with a little 
salt ; some added oil, and those who were very weak, 
a few herbs or pulse ; no one ever ate before sunset. 
After the refection it was allowed to converse with 
one another, but only on heavenly things. They 
always closed their night-prayers with the remem 
brance of the last judgment, to excite themselves to a 
constant watchfulness and preparation ; which prac 
tice St. Chrysostom earnestly recommends to all 
Christians with the evening examination. These 
monks had no other bed than a mat spread on the 
bare ground. Their garments were made of the 
rough hair of goats or camels, or of old skins, and 
such as the poorest beggars would not wear, though 
some of them were of the richest families, and had 
been tenderly brought up. They wore no shoes ; no 
one possessed any thing as his own ; even their poor 
necessaries were all in common. They inherited their 
estates only to distribute them among the poor; and 
on tliem, and in hospitality to strangers, they ha- 


stowed all the spare profits of their work. They all 
used the same food, wore a uniform habit, and by 
charity were all one heart. The cold words mine 
and thine, the baneful source of lawsuits and animos 
ities among men, were banished from their 
They rose at the first crowing of the cock, that is, at 
midnight, being called up by the superior ; and, aftei 
the morning hymns and psalms, that is, matins and 
lauds, all remained in their private cells, where they 
read the holy scriptures, and some copied books. 
All met in the church at the canonical hours of 
tierce, sext, none, and vespers, but returned to their 
cells, none being allowed to speak, to jest, or to be 
one moment idle. The time which others spend at 
table, or in diversions, they employed in honoring 
God ; even their meal took up very little time, and 
after a short sleep, (according to the custom of hot 
countries,) they resumed their exercises, conversing 
not with men but with God, with the prophets and 
apostles in their writings and pious meditation ; and 
spiritual things were the only subject of their enter 
tainment. For corporal exercise they employed 
themselves in some mean manual labor, such as 
entertained them in humility, and could not inspire 
vanity or pride : they made baskets, tilled and 
watered the earth, hewed wood, attended the kitchen, 
washed the feet of all strangers, and waited on them 
without distinction, whether they were rich or poor 


The saint ad Is, that anger, jealousy, envy, grief, 
and anxiety for worldly goods and concerns, were 
unknown in these poor cells ; and he assures us, that 
the constant peace, joy, and pleasure which reigned 
in them, were as different from the bitterness and 
tumultuous scenes of the most brilliant worldly 
felicity, as the security and calmness of the most 
agreeable harbor are, from the dangers and agitation 
of the most tempestuous ocean. Such was the rule 
of these cenobites, or monks who lived in commu 
nity. There were also hermits on the same moun 
tains who lay on ashes, wore sackcloth, and shut 
themselves up in frightful caverns, practising more 
extraordinary austerities. Our saint was at first 
apprehensive that he should find it an insupportable 
difficulty to live without fresh bread, use the same 
stinking oil for his food and for his lamp, and inure 
his body to hard labor under so great austerities. 
But by courageously despising this apprehension, in 
consequence of a resolution to spare nothing by 
which he might learn perfectly to die to himself, he 
found the difficulty entirely to vanish in the execu 
tion. Experience shows that in such undertakings, 
the imagination is alarmed not so much by realities 
as phantoms, which vanish before a courageous heart 
which can look them in the face with contempt. 
Abbot Ranee, the reformer of La Trappe, found more 
difficulty in the thought of rising without a fire in 


winter, in the beginning of his conversion, than he 
did in the greatest severities which he afterwards 
practised. St. Chrysostorn passed four years under 
the conduct of a veteran Syrian monk, and after 
wards two years in a cave as a hermit. The damp- 
cess of this abode brought on him a dangerous dis 
temper, and for the recovery of his health he was 
obliged to return into the city. By this means he 
was restored to the service of the church in 381, for 
the benefit of innumerable souls. He was ordained 
deacon by St. Meletius that very year, and priest by 
Flavian in 386, who at the same time constituted 
him his vicar and preacher, our saint being then in 
the forty-third year of his age. He discharged all 
the duties of that arduous station during twelve 
years, being the hand and the eye of his bishop, and 
his mouth to his flock. The instruction and care of 
the poor he regarded as his first obligation ; this he 
always made his favorite employment and his delight. 
He never ceased in his sermons to recommend their 
cause and the precept of alms-deeds to the people. 
Antioch, he supposed, contained at that time one 
hundred thousand Christian souls : all these he fed 
with the word of God, preaching several days in the 
week, and frequently several times on the same day. 
He confounded the Jews and Pagans, also the Ano- 
mseans, and other heretics. He abolished the most 
inveterate abuses, repressed vice, and changed tha 


face of that great city. It seemed as if nothing 
could withstand the united power of his eloquence, 
zeal, and piety. 

Theodosius L, finding himself obliged tc lavy * 
new tax on his subjects, on occasion of his war witb. 
Maximus, who had usurped the Western empire in 
387, the populace of Antioch, provoked at the de 
mand, mutinied, and discharged their rage on the 
emperor s statue, those of his father, his two sons, 
and his late consort, Flavilla, dragged them with 
ropes through the streets, and then broke them to 
pieces. The magistrates durst not oppose the rabble 
in their excesses. But as soon as their fury was 
over, and that they began to reflect on what they 
had been guilty of, and the natural consequences of 
their extravagances, they were all seized with such 
terror and consternation, that many abandoned the 
city, others absconded, and scarce any durst appear 
publicly in the streets. The magistrates in the mean 
time were filling the prisons with citizens, in order to 
their trials, on account of their respective share in the 
combustion. Their fears were heightened on the ar 
rival of two officers dispatched from Constantinople 
to execute the emperor s orders with regard to the 
punishment of the Hotel s. The reports which were 
spread abroad on this occasion imported, that the 
emperor would cause the guilty to be burned alive, 
would confiscate their estates, and level the city with 


the ground. The consternation alone was a 
torment th<*u the execution itself could have been. 
Flavian, notwithstanding his very advanced age, arid 
though his sister was dying when he left her, set out 
without delay in a very severe season of the year, to 
implore the emperor s clemency in favor of his flock. 
Being come to the palace, and admitted into the em 
peror s presence, he no sooner perceived that prince 
but he stopped at a distance, holding down his head, 
covering his face, and speaking only by his tears, as 
though himself had been guilty. Thus he remained 
for some time. The emperor seeing him in this con 
dition, carrying, as it were, the weight of the public 
Gjuilt in his breast, instead of employing harsh re- 
pi oaches, as Flavian might naturally have expected, 
summed up the many favors he had conferred on that 
city, and said at the conclusion of each article : " Is 
this the acknowledgement I had reason to expect ? Is 
this their return for my love ? What cause of com 
plaint had Ihey against me ? Had I ever injured 
them ? But granting that I had, what can they allege 
for extending their insolence even to the dead. Had 
they received any wrong from them ? Why were 
they to bo insulted too ? What tenderness have I 
not shown on all occasions for their city ? Is it not 
notorious that I have Driven it the preference in my 
love and esteem to all others, even to that which 
gave me birth ? Did not I always express a longing 


Desire to see it, and that it gave me the highest satis 
faction to think I should soon be in. a condition of 
taking a journey for this purpose ?" 

Then the holy bishop, being unable, to bear such 
stinging reproaches, or vindicate thep- conduct, made 
answer : " We acknowledge, Sir, that you have on 
all occasions favored us with the greatest demonstra 
tions of your singular affection ; and this it is that 
enhances both our crime and our grief, that we should 
have carried our ingratitude to such a pitch as to 
have offended our best friend and greatest benefactor : 
hence, whatever punishment you may inflict upon us, 
it will still fall short of what we deserve. But alas ! 
the evil we have done ourselves is worse than innu 
merable deaths : for what can be more afflicting than 
to live, in the judgment of all mankind, guiltv of the 
blackest ingratitude, and to see ourselves deprived of 
your sweet and gracious protection, which was oui 
bulwark. We dare not look any man in the face ; 
no, not the sun itself. But as great as our misery is, 
it is not irremediable ; for it is in your power to 
remove it. Great affronts among private men have 
often been the occasion of great charity. When the 
devil s envy had destroyed man, God s mercy restored 
him. That wicked spirit, jealous of our city s hap 
piness, has plunged her into this abyss of evils, out 
of which you alone can rescu * her. It is your affec* 
fion, I dare say it, which has rough t them upon ue, 


by exciting the jealousy of the wicked spirits against 
ua. But, like God himself, you may draw infinite 
good out of the evil which they intended us. If you 
spare us, you are revenged on them. 

" Your clemency on this occasion will be more 
honorable to you than your most celebrated victories. 
It will adorn your head with a far brighter diadem 
than that which you wear, as it will be the fruit only 
of your own virtue. Your statues have been thrown 
down : if you pardon this insult, you will raise your 
self others, not of marble or brass, which time de 
stroys, but such as will exist eternally in the hearts 
of all those who will hear of this action. Your pre 
decessor, Constantine the Great, when importuned by 
his courtiers to exert his vengeance on some seditious 
people that had disfigured his statues by throwing 
stones at them, did nothing more than stroke his 
face with his hand, and told them, smiling, that he 
did not feel himself hurt. This his saying is yet in 
the mouths of all men, and a more illustrious trophy 
to his memory than all the cities which he built, 
than all the barbarous nations which he subdued. 
Remember your own memorable saying, when you 
ordered the prisons to be opened, and the criminals 
to be pardoned at the feast of Easter : Would to 
God I were able in the same manner to open the 
graves, and restore the dead to life ! That time is 
DOW come. Here is a city whose inhabitants are 


Already dead ; and is, as it were, at the gates of its 
sepulchre. Raise it then, as it is in your power to 
do, without cost or labor. A word will suffice. 
Suffer it by your clemency to be still named among 
the living cities. It will then owe more to you than 
to its very founder. He built it small, you will raise 
it great and populous. To have preserved it from 
being destroyed by barbarians would not have been 
so great an exploit, as to spare it on such an occasion 
as now offers. 

" Neither is the preservation of an illustrious city 
the only thing to be considered; your own glory, 
ind. above all, the honor of the Christian religion, are 
highly interested in this affair. The Jews and 
Pagans, all barbarous nations, nay, the whole world, 
have their eyes fixed on you at this critical juncture ; 
all are waiting for the judgment you will pronounce. 
If it be favorable, they will be filled with admiration, 
and will agree to praise and worship that God, who 
checks the anger of those who acknowledge no mas 
ter upon earth, and who can transform men into 
angels ; they will embrace that religion which 
teaches such sublime morality. Listen not to those 
who will object that your clemency on this occasion 
may be attended with, and give encouragement to 
he like disorders in other cities. That could only 
bappen, if you spared for want of a power to chaa- 
*ise : but whereas you do not divest yourself, by suca 


nn act of clemency, of this power, and as by it you 
endear and rivet yourself the more in the affections 
of your subjects, this, instead of encouraging such 
insults and disorders, will rather the more effectually 
prevent them. Neither immense sums of money, nor 
innumerable armies, could ever have gained you so 
much the hearts of your subjects and their prayers for 
your person and empire, as will this single action* 
And if you stand fair for being such a gainer from 
men, what rewards may you not reasonably expect 
from God ? It is easy for a master to punish, but 
tare and difficult to pardon. 

"It will be extremely glorious to you to have 
granted this pardon at the request of a minister of 
the Lord, and it will convince the world of your piety, 
in that you overlooked the unworthiness of his per 
son, and respected only the power and authority of 
that Master who sent him. For though deputed im 
mediately by the inhabitants of Antioch to deprecate 
your just displeasure on this occasion, it is not only 
in their name that I appear in this place, for I am 
come from the sovereign Lord of men and angels to 
declare to you in his name, that, if you pardon men 
their faults, he will forgive you your sins. Call to 
mind then that dreadful day on which we shall all be 
summoned to give in an account of all our actions. 
Reflect on your having it now in your power, without 
pain or labor, to efface yo*ir sins, and to find mercy at 


that terrible tribunal. You are about to pronounce 
your own sentence. Other ambassadors bring gold, 
silver, and other like presents, but as for me, I offer 
nothing but the law of God, and entreat you to imi 
tate his example on the cross." He concluded his 
tarangue by assuring the emperor that if he refused 
to pardon the city, he would never more return to it, 
nor look upon that city as his country, which a prince 
of his humane disposition could not prevail upon him 
self to pardon. 

This discourse had its desired effect on the emperor, 
who with much difficulty suppressed his tears while 
the bishop spoke, whom he answered in these, .few 
words : " If Jesus Christ, the Lord f of all things, 
vouchsafed to pardon and pray for those very men 
that crucified him, ought I to hesitate to pardon them 
who have offended me ? I, who am but a mortal man 
like them, and a servant of the same Master." The 
patriarch, overjoyed at his success, prostrated himself 
at the emperor s feet, wishing him a reward for such 
an action suitable to its merit. And whereas the 
prelate made an offer of passing the feast of Easter 
with the Emperor at Constantinople, he^to testify hew 
sincerely he was reconciled to the city of Antioch, 
urged his immediate return, saying: "Go, Father, 
delay not a moment the consolation your people will 
receive at your return, by communicating to them fcbe 
assurances of the pardon I grant tfiera ; I know they 


must be in great affliction." The bishop set out ao 
cordingly ; but, to delay as little as possible the joy 
of the citizens, he dispatched a courier before him 
with the emperor s letter of pardon, which produced 
a comfortable change in the face of affairs. The 
bishop himself arrived time enough before Easter to 
keep that solemnity with his people. The joy and 
triumph of that city could not be greater; it is ele 
gantly described by St. Chrysostom, extolling above 
all things the humility and modesty of Flavian, who 
attributed the whole change of Theodosius s mind, 
and all the glory of the action, to God alone. The 
discourse which Flavian addressed to the emperor., 
except the introduction, had been composed by St. 
Chrysostom, who recited it to the people to comfort 
them, and ceased not strongly to exhort them to pen 
ance, and the fervent exercise of good works, during 
the whole time of their bishop s absence. After this 
storm our saint continued his labors with unwearied 
zeal, and was the honor, the delight, and the darling 
not oi Antioch only, but of all the East, and his repu 
tation spread itself over the whole empire. But God 
was pleased to call him to glorify his name on a new 
theatre, where he prepared for his virtue other trials, 
and other crowns. 

St. Chrysostom had been five years deacon, and 
twelve years priest, when Nectarius, bishop of Con 
stantinople, dying in 397, the emperor Arcadia^ ai 


the suggestion of Eutropius the eunuch, his chamber 
lain, resolved to procure the election of our saint to 
the patriarchate of that city. He therefore dispatched 
a secret order to the count of the East, enjoining him 
to send John to Constantinople, but by some strata 
gem ; lest his intended removal, if known at Antioch, 
should cause a sedition, and be rendered impractica 
ble. The count repaired to Antioch, and desiring the 
faint to accompany him out of the city to the tombs 
of the martyrs, on the pretence of devotion, he there 
delivered him into the hands of an officer sent on 
purpose, who, taking him into his chariot, conveyed 
him with all possible speed to the imperial city. 
Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, a man of a proud 
and turbulent spirit, was come thither to recommend 
a creature of his own to that dignity. He endeavored 
by illegal practices secretly to traverse the canonical 
promotion of our saint ; but was detected, and threat 
ened to be accused in a synod. Whereupon he was 
glad to desist from his intrigues, and thus John was 
consecrated by him on the 26th of February, in 398. 
In regulating his own conduct and his domestic con- 
terns, he retrenched all the great expenses which his 
predecessors had entailed on their dignity, which he 
looked upon as superfluous, and an excessive prodigal 
ity, and these sums he applied to the relief of :he 
poor, especially of the sick. For this purpose he 
and maintained several numerous hospitals, 


under the government of holy and clian table priest*, 
and was very careful that all the servants and attend 
ants were persons of great virtue, tenderness, compas 
sion, and prudence. His own family being settled in 
irood order, the next thing he took in hand after hiu 
promotion was the reformation of hia clergy. This 
he forwarded by zealous exhortations and proper rules 
for their conduct, tending both to their sanctification 
and exernplarity. And to give these his endeavors 
their due force, he lived an exact model of what he 
nculcated to others : but his zeal exasperated the 
,epid part of that order, and raised a storm against 
himself. The immodesty of women in their dress in 
that gay capital excited in him sentiments of the most 
just abhorrence and indignation. Some ^oung ladies 
seemed to have forgot that clothing is the covering of 
the ignominy of sin, and ought to be an instrument 
of penance, and a motive of confusion and tears, not 
of vanity. But the exhortations of St. Chrysostom 
moved many to despise and lay aside the use of pur 
ple, silks, and jewels. It was a far more intolerable 
scandal that some neglected to cover their necks, or 
used such thin veils as served only to invite the eyes 
of others more boldly. Our saint represented to such 
persons that they were in some respects worse than 
public prostitutes: for these hide their baits at home 
only for the wicked : " but you," said he, " carry youi 
snar* tvery where, and spread your nets publicly in all 


places. You allege, that you never invited others to 
sin. You did not by your tongue, but you have done 
it by your dress and deportment more effectually than 
you could by your voice : when you have made 
another to sin in his heart, how can you be innocent! 
You sharpened and drew the sword : you gave the 
thrust by which the soul is wounded. Tell me, whom 
does the world condemn ? whom do judges punish ? 
Those who drink the poison, or those who prepare and 
give the fatal draught? You have mingled the 
execrable cup ; you have administered the potion of 
death : you are so much more criminal than poisoners, 
as the death which you cause is the more terrible; 
Cor you murder not the body, but the soul. Nor do 
you do this to enemies ; nor compelled by necessity, 
nor provoked by any injury ; but out of a foolish 
vanity and pride. You sport yourselves in the ruin 
of the souls of others, and make their spiritual deatt 
your pastime." Hence he infers, how false and ab 
surd their excuse is in saying, they mean no harm. 
These and many other scandals he abolished. He 
suppressel the wicked custom of swearing, first at 
Antioch, then at Constantinople. By the invincible 
power of his eloquence and zeal he tamed the fiercest 
sinners, and changed them into meek lambs : he con 
verted an incredible number of idolaters and heretics. 
His mildness towards sinners was censured by the 
tfovatians; he invited them to repentance rith the 


compassion of the most tender father, and was accus 
tomed to cry out : " If you are fallen a second time, 
or even a thousand times into sin, come to me, and 
you shall be healed." But lie was firm and severe 
in maintaining discipline, though without harshness ; 
to impenitent sinners he was inflexible. To mention 
one instance of the success of his holy zeal out of the 
many which his sermons furnish ; in the year 399, the 
second of his episcopacy, on Wednesday in Holy 
Week, so violent a rain fell as to endanger the corn, 
and threaten the whole produce of the country. 
Hereupon public processions were made to the churcl* 
of the apostles by the bishop and people, to avert the 
scourge by imploring the intercession chiefly of St 
Peter, St. Andrew, (who is regarded as the founde. 
of the church of Byzantium,) St. Paul, and St. 
Timothy. The rain ceased, but not their fears. There 
fore they all crossed the Bosphorus to the church of 
SS. Peter and Paul, on the opposite side of the water.- 
This danger was scarce over, when on the Friday fol 
lowing many ran to see certain horse-races, and on 
Holy Saturday to games exhibited at the theatre. 
The good bishop was pierced to the quick with grief, 
and on the next day, Easter-Sunday, preached a most 
zealous and eloquent sermon, Against the Games and 
Shows of the Theatre and Circus. Indignation made 
tiffi not so much as mention the paschal solemnity ; 
but by an abrupt exordium he burst into the mott 


raheraent pathos, as follows : " Are these things to b 
borne ? Can they be tolerated ? I appeal to your 
selves, be you your own judges. Thus did God ex 
postulate with the Jews." This exclamation he often 
repeated to assuage his grief. He put the people in 
mind of the sanctity of our faith ; of the rigorou* 
account we must give to God of all our moments, and 
the obligation of serving him incumbent on us from 
his benefits, who has made for us the heaven and 
earth, the sun, light, rivers, &c. The saint grieved 
the more, because, after all, they said they had dono 
no harm, though they had murdered not only their 
own souls, but also those of their children. "And 
how will you," said he, " after this app?oach the holy 
place ? How will you touch the heavenly food ? 
Even now ao x see you overwhelm? I with grief, and 
covered with confusion. I see scrao striking their 
foreheads, perhaps those who have Bot sinned, but are 
moved with compassion for their brethren. On this 
account do I grieve and suffer, that the devil should 
make such a havoc in such a flock. But if you join 
with me, we will shut him out. By what means ? 
Tf we seek out the wounded, and snatch them out of 
his jaws. Do not tell me their number is but small : 
though they are but ten, this is a great loss : though 
but five, but two, or only one. The shepherd leaving 
ninety-nine, did not return till he had completed his 
cumber by recovering that sheep whic\ was lost. Oo 


not say, it is only one ; but remember that it is a sou, 
for which all things visible were made; for which 
laws were given, miracles wrought, and mysteries 
effected : for which God spared not his only Son. 
Think how great a price hath been paid for this one 
sheep, and bring him back to the fold. If he neither 
hears your persuasions nor my exhortations, I will 
employ the authority with which God hath invested 
me." He proceeds to declare such excommunicated. 
The consternation and penance of the city made the 
holy pastor forbear any further censure, and to com 
mend their conversion. Palladius writes that he had 
the satisfaction to see those who had been the most 
passionately fond of the entertainments of the stage 
and circus, moved by his sermons on that subject, en 
tirely renounce those schools of the devil. God is 
more glorified by one perfect soul than by many who 
serve him with tepidity. Therefore, though every 
individual of his large flock was an object of his most 
tender affection and pastoral concern, those were par 
ticularly so, who had secluded themselves from the 
world by embracing a religious state of life, the holy 
virgins and nuns. Describing their method of life, 
he says : Their clothing was sackcloth, and their beds 
only mats spread on the floor ; that they watched part 
of the night in prayer, walked barefoot, never ate 
before evening, and never touched so much as bread, 
using no other food than pulse and herbs, and that 


they were always occupied in prayer, manual labor, 
or serving the sick of their own sex. The spiritual 
mother, and the sun of this holy company, St. Nica- 
i-uta, is honored December the 27th. Among the holy 
widows who dedicated themselves to God under the 
direction of this great master of saints, the most illus 
trious were the truly noble ladies St. Olyrnpias, Sal- 
vina, Procula, and Pantadia. This last (who was the 
widow of Timasus, formerly the first minister to the 
emperor) was constituted by him deaconess of the 
church of Constantinople. Widows he considered as 
by their state called to a life of penance, retirement, 
and devotion ; and he spared no exhortations or en 
deavors to engage them faithfully to correspond to 
the divine grace, according to the advice which St. 
Paul gives them. St. Olympias claimed the privilege 
of furnishing the expenses of the saint s frugal table. 
He usually ate alone ; few would have been willing to 
dine to late, or so coarsely and sparingly as he did ; 
and he chose this to save both time and expenses : 
but he kept another table in a house near his palace, 
for the entertainment of strangers, which he took care 
should be decently supplied. He inveighed exceecv- 
ingly against sumptuous banquets. All his revenues 
lie laid out on the poor ; for whose relief he sold the 
rich furniture which Nectarius had left ; and once, in 
a great dearth, he caused some of the sacred vessels 
to be melted down for that purpose. This action wa 


condemned by Theophilus, but is justly regarded by 
St. Austin as a high commendation of our holy prel 
ate. Besides the public hospital near his cathedra^ 
and several others which he founded and maintained, 
he erected two for strangers. His own patrimony he 
had given to the poor long before, at Antioch. His 
extraordinary chanties obtained him the name of John 
of almsdeeds. The spiritual necessities of his neigh 
bor were objects of far greater compassion to his ten 
der charity. His diocese, nay, the whole world, he 
considered as a great hospital of souls, spiritually 
blind, deaf, sick, and in danger of perishing eternally ; 
many standing on the brink, many daily falling from 
the frightful precipice into the unquenchable lake. 
Not content with tears and supplications to the Father 
of mercies for their salvation, he was indefatigable in 
labors and in every endeavor to open their eyes; 
feared no dangers, no not death itself in its most 
frightful shapes, to succor them in their spiritual neces 
sities, and prevent their fall. Neither was this pastoral 
care confined to his own flock or nation : he extended 
it to the remotest countries He sent a bishop to in 
struct the Nomades or wandering Scythians : another, 
an admirable man, to the Goths. Palestine, Persia, 
and many other distant provinces felt the most benefi 
cent influence of his zeal. He was himself endued 
with an eminent spirit of prayer : this he knew to 
be the great channel of heavenly graces, the cleanset 


of the affections of the soul from earthly dross, and 
the means which renders them spiritual and heavenly, 
and makes men angels, even in their mortal body. 
He was therefore particularly earnest in inculcating 
this duty, and in instructing others in the manner of 
performing it. He warmly exhorted the laity to rise 
to the midnight office of matins together with the 
clergy: "Many artizans," said he, "watch to labor, 
and soldiers watch as sentries ; and cannot you do as 
much to praise God ?" He observes, that the silence 
of the night is peculiarly adapted to devout prayer, 
and the sighs of compunction: which exercise we 
ought never to interrupt too long ; and by watching, 
prayer becomes more earnest and powerful. Women 
he will not have to go easily abroad to church in the 
night-time : but advises that even children rise in the 
night to say a short prayer, and as they cannot watch 
long be put to bed again : for thus they will contract 
from their infancy a habit of watching, and a Chris 
tian s whole house will be converted into a church. 
The advantages and necessity of assiduous prayer he 
often recommends with singular energy ; but he ex 
presses himself on no subject with greater tenderness 
and force than on the excess of the divine love, which 
is displayed in the holy Eucharist, and in exhorting 
the faithful to the frequent use of that heavenly sacra 
ment St. Proclus says, that he abridged the liturgy 
of his church. St. Nilus assures us that he was often 


favored with visions of angels in the church during 
the canonical hours, surrounding the altars in troops 
during the celebration of the divine mysteries, and at 
the communion of the people. The saint himseF 
confidently avers, that this happens at those times, 
which he confirms by the visions of several hermits. 

The public concerns of the state often called on the 
saint to afford the spiritual succors of his zeal and 
chanty. Eutropius was then at the head of affairs. 
He was a eunuch, and originally a slave, but had 
worked himself into favor with the emperor Arcadius. 
In 395 he was instrumental in cutting off Rufinus, 
the chief minister, who had broke out into an open 
rebellion, and he succeeded the traitor in all his 
honors : golden statues were erected to him in several 
parts of the city, and what Claudian, Marcellinus in 
his chronicle, Suidas, and others, represent as the 
most monstrous event that occurs in the Roman 
Fasti, was declared consul, though a eunuch. Being 
placed on so high a pinnacle, a situation but too apt 
to turn the strongest head, forgetful of himself and 
the indispensable rules of decency and prudence, it 
was not long before he surpassed his predecessor in 
insolence, ambition, and covetousness. Wholesome 
advice, even from a Chrysostom, served only to exas 
perate a heart devoted to the world, and open to 
flatterers, who added continually new flames to its 
Dassions. Tn the mean time, the murmurs and indig 

ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM. 51* of the whole empire at the pride and avarice 
of Eutropius were a secret to him, till the pit was 
pi^pared for his fall. Gainas, general of the auxiliary 
Goths in the imperial army, was stirred up to revenge 
an affront which his cousin Trigibildus, a tribune, had 
received from the haughty minister. At the same 
time the empress Eudoxia, having been insulted by 
hiro, ran to the emperor, carrying her two little 
babar. in her arms, and cried out for justice against 
thf insolent servant. Arcadius, who was as weak 
in abandoning, as he was imprudent in choosing 
favorites, gave orders that the minister should be 
driven out of the court, and his estates confiscated. 
Eutropius found himself in a moment forsaken by 
all the herds of his admirers and flatterers, without 
on.e single friend, and fled for protection to the 
church, and to those very altars whose immunities 
he had infringed and violated. The whole citv was 
in an uproar against him ; the army called aloud for 
Ins death, and a troop of soldiers surrounded the 
church with naked swords in their hands, and fire 
in their eyes. St. Chrysostorn went to the emperor, 
and easily obtained of him that the unhappy criminal 
might be allowed to enjoy the benefit of sancta*ry ; 
and the soldiers were prevailed upon, by the *ears 
of the emperor and the remonstrances of the bUiop, 
to withdraw. The next day the people flocked to 
behold a man whose frown two days before made 


the whole world to tremble, now laying hold of the 
altar, gnashing his teeth, trembling and shuddering 
having nothing before his eyes but drawn swords, 
dungeons, and executioners. St. Chrysostom on this 
occasion, made a pathetic discourse on the vanity 
and treachery of human things, the emptiness and 
falsehood of which he could not find a word empbati- 
cal enough to express. The poor Eutropius could 
not relish such truths a few days ago, but now found 
his very riches destructive. The saint entreated the 
people to forgive him whom the emperor, the chief 
person injured, was desirous to forgive : he asked 
them how they could beg of God the pardon of their 
own sins if they did not pardon a man who then, by 
repentance, was perhaps a saint in the eyes of God. 
At this discourse not a single person in the church 
was able to refrain from tears, and all things seemed 
in a state of tranquillity. Some days after, Eutropius 
left the church, hoping to escape privately out of the 
city, but was seized, and banished into Cyprus. He 
was ivcalled a few months after, and being impeached 
of high -treason was condemned and beheaded, chiefly 
at the instigation of Gainas ; in compliance with 
whose unjust demands the weak emperor consented 
to the death of Aurelianus and Saturninus, two prin 
cipal lords of his court. But St. Chrysostom, by 
several journeys, prevailed with the barbarian to 
ccntent himself with their banishment, which they 


under wei-t, but were soon after recalled. As unjust 
concessions usually make rebels the more insolent, 
Gainas hereupon obliged the emperor to declare him 
commander-in-chief of all his troops. Yet even when 
his pride and power were at the highest, St. Chry- 
sostom refused him the use of any Catholic church 
in Constantinople for the A nan worship. And when, 
some time after, he laid siege to that capital, the 
saint went out to him, and by kind expostulations 
prevailed on him to withhold his design and draw 
off his army. He was afterwards defeated in passing 
the Hellespont; and fleeing through the country of 
the Huns, was overthrown, and slain by them in 400. 
This same year, 400, St. Chrysostom held a council 
of bishops in Constantinople ; one of whom had 
preferred a complaint against his metropolitan Anto 
ninus, the archbishop of Ephesus, which consisted of 
several heads, but that chiefly insisted on was simony. 
All our saint s endeavors to discuss this affair being 
frustrated by the distance of places, he found it 
necessary, at the solicitation of the clergy and people 
of Ephesus, to go in person to that city, though the 
(severity of the winter season, and the ill state of health 
he was then in, might be sufficient motives for retard 
ing this journey. In this and the neighboring cities 
several councils were held, in which the archbishop 
tf Ephesus and several other bishops in Asia, Lycia, 
and riirygia, were deposed for simony. Upon" hia 


return after Easter, in 401, having been absent * 
hundred days, he preached the next morning, calling 
his people, in the transports of tender joy, his crown, 
his glory, his paradise planted with flourishing trees; 
but if any bad shrubs should be found in it, he 
promised that no pains should be spared to change 
them into good. He bid them consider if they 
rejoiced so much as they testified, to see him again 
who was only one, how great his joy must be which 
was multiplied in every one of them : he calls himself 
their bond-slave, chained to tliir service, but says, 
that slavery was his delight, and that during his 
absence he ever had them present to his mind, offer 
ing up his prayers for their temporal and spiritual 

It remained that our saint should glorify God by 
his sufferings, as he had already done by his labors : 
and if we contemplate the mystery of the cross with 
the eyes of faith, we shall find him greater in the 
persecutions he sustained than in all the other occur 
rences of his life. At the same time we cannot 
sufficiently deplore the blindness of envy and pride 
in his enemies, as in the Pharisees against Christ 
himself. We ought to tremble for ourselves : *f that 
passion does not make us persecute a Chrysostom, 
it may often betray us into rash judgments, aver^ionsi 
and other sins, even under a cloak of virtue. The 
fiist open adversary of our saint was Severianus. 


bishop of Gabala, in Syria, to whom the s^int had 
left the care of his church during his absence. This 
man had acquired the reputation of a preacher, was 
a favorite of the empress Eudoxia, and had employed 
all his talents and dexterity to establish himself it, 
the good opinion of the court and people, to the 
prejudice of the saint, against whom he hfid preached 
in his own city. Severianus being obliged to leave 
Constantinople at the saint s return, he made an 
excellent discourse to his flock on the peace Christ 
came to establish on earth, and begged they would 
receive again Severianus, whom they had expelled 
the city. Another enemy of the saint was Theophi- 
lus, patriarch of Alexandria, whom Sozomen, Socrates, 
Palladius, St. Isidore of Pelusium, and Synesius, ac 
cuse of avarice and oppressions to gratify his vanity 
in building stately churches ; of pride, envy, revenge, 
dissimulation, and an uncontrollable love of power 
and rule, by which he treated other bishops as his 
slaves, and made his will the rule of justice. His 
three paschal letters, which have reached us, show that 
he wrote without method, and that his reflections and 
reasonings were neither just nor apposite : whence the 
loss of his other writings, is not much to be regretted. 
Those spiritual vices sullied his zeal against the An- 
thropomorphites, and his other virtues. He died in 
412, wishing that he had lived always in a desert, 
honoring the name of the holy Chrysostom, whose 


picture he caused to be brought to his bedside, and 
by reverencing it, showed his desire to make atone 
ment for his past ill conduct towards our saint. This 
turbulent man had driven from their retreat fou. 
abbots of Nitria, called the tall brothers, on a ground 
e** suspicion of Origenism, as appears from Palladius, 
though it wis believed by St. Jerom, which is main 
tained by Baroning. Si. Chrysostom admitted them 
to communion, but not till they had juridically cleared 
themselves of it in an ample manner. This however 
was grievously resented by Theophilus : but the em 
press Eudoxia, who, after the disgrace of Eutropius, 
governed her husband and the empire, was the main 
spring which moved the whole conspiracy against the 
saint. Zozimus, a heathen historian, says, that her 
flagrant avarice, her extortions and injustices, knew no 
bounds, and that the court was filled with informers, 
calumniators, and harpies, who, being always on the 
watch for prey, found means to seize the estates of 
such as died rich, and to disinherit their children or 
other heirs. No wonder that a saint should displease 
such a court while he discharged his duty to God. 
lie had preached a sermon against the extravagance 
and vanity of women in dress and pomp. This was 
pretended by some to have been levelled at the em 
press ; and Severianus was not wanting to blow the 
coals. Knowing Theophilus was no friend to the 
saint, the empress, to be revenged of the supposed 


affront, sent to desire his presence at Constantinople, 
in order to depose him. He obeyed the summons 
with pleasure, and landed at Constantinople in June, 
403, with several Egyptian bishops his creatures, 
refused to see or lodge with John, and got together 
a packed cabal of thirty-six bishops, the saint s ene 
mies, in a church at Chalcedon, calling themselves 
the synod at the Oak, from a great tree which gave 
name to that quarter of the town. The heads of the 
impeachment drawn up against the holy bishop were: 
that he had deposed a deacon for beating a servant; 
that he had called several of his clergy base men ; had 
deposed bishops out of his province ; had ordained 
priests in his domestic chapel, instead of the cathe 
dral; had sold things belonging to the church; that 
nobody knew what became of his revenues ; that he 
ate alone ; and that he gave the holy communion to 
persons who were not fasting : all which were false or 
frivolous. The saint held a legal council of forty 
bishops in the city at the same time; and refused to 
appear before that at the Oak, alleging most noto 
rious infractions of the canons in their pretended 
council. The cabal proceeded to a sentence of depo- 
nition, which they sent to the city and to the emperor, 
tc whom they also accused him of treason, for having 
called i he empress Jezabel, a false assertion, as Palla 
dia* estifies. The emperor hereupon issued out an 
order for his banishment, but the execution of it was 


opposed by the people, who assembled about the 
great church to guard their pastor. He made them a 
farewell sermon, in which he spoke as follows : " Vio 
lent storms encompass me on all sides ; vet I am 
without tear, because I stand upon a rock. Though 
the sea roar, mid the waves rise high, they cannot 
Rink the vessel of Jesus. I fear not death, which is 
my gain : nor banishment, for the whole earth is the 
Lord s : nor the loss of goods ; for I came naked into 
the world, and must leave it in the same condition. 
I despise all the terrors of the world, and trample 
upon its smiles and favor. Nor do I desire to live 
unless for your service. Christ is with me: whom 
shall I fear ? Though waves rise against me : though 
the sea, though the fury of princes threaten me, all 
these are to me more contemptible than a spider s 
web. I always say : Lord, may thy will be dene : 
not what this or that creature wills, but what it shall 
please thee to appoint, that shall I do and suffer with 
joy. This is my strong tower : this is my unshaken 
rock : this is my staff that can never fail. If God be 
pleased that it be done, let it be so. Wheresoever 
his will is that I be, I return him thanks." He de 
clared that he was ready to lay down a thousand 
lives for them, if at his disposal, and that he suffered 
only because he had neglected nothing to save their 
Bouls. On the third day after the unjust sentence 
given against him, having received repeated orden 


from the emperor to go into banishment, and taking 
all possible care to prevent a sedition, he surrendered 
himself, unknown to the people, to the count, who 
conducted him to Prsenetum in Bithynia. After his 
departure his enemies entered the city with guards, 
and Severianus mounted the pulpit, and began to 
preach, pretending to show the deposition of the saint 
to have been legal and just. But the people would 
not suffer him to proceed, and ran about as if dis 
tracted, loudly demanding in a body the restoration 
of their holy pastor. The next night the city was 
shook with an earthquake. This brought the empress 
to reflect with remorse on what she had done against 
the holy bishop. She applied immediately to the 
emperor, under the greatest consternation, for his 
being recalled ; crying out : " Unless John be recalled, 
our empire is undone :" and with his consent she dis 
patched letters the same night, inviting him home 
with tender expressions of affection and esteem, and 
protesting her ignorance of his banishment. Almost 
all the city went out to meet him, and great numbers 
of lighted torches were carried before him. He stop 
ped in the suburbs, refusing to enter the city till he 
aad been declared innocent by a more numerous 
tssembly of bishops. But the people would suffer 
oo delay : the enemies of the saint fled, and he re 
sumed his functions, and preached to his flock. He 
pressed the emperor to call Theophilus to a legal 


synod : but that ahstinate persecutor alleged f /iat h 
could not return *v>tho*t danger of his life ]j jwever, 
Sozomen relates that threescore bishop? ratified hi* 
return but the fair weather old n ji long. A 
silver statue of the empress having been erected on a 
pillar before the great church of St. Sophia, the 
dedication of it was celebrated with public games, 
which, besides disturbing the divine service, engaged 
the spectators in extravagances and superstition. St. 
Chrysostom had often preached against licentious 
shows ; and the very place rendered these the more 
criminal. On this occasion, fearing lest his silence 
should be construed ?.z an approbation of the thing, 
he, with his usual f/r^dom and courage, spoke loudly 
against it. Though this could only affect the Mani- 
chaean overseer of those games, the vanity of the 
empress made her take the affront to herself, and her 
desires of revenge were implacable. His enemies 
were invited back : Thecphilus durst not come, but 
sent three deputies. Though St. John had forty-two 
bishops with him, this second cabal urged to the 
emperor certain canons of an Arian council of Anti- 
och, made only to exclude St. Athanasius, by which 
it was ordained that no bishop who had been deposed 
by a synod, should return to his see till he was re 
stored by another synod. This false plea overruled 
the justice of the saint s cause, and Arcadius sent him 
ftu order to withdraw. He refused to forsake a church 


committed U him by God, unless forcibly compelled 
to leave it. The emperor sent troops to drive the 
people out of the churches on Holy-Saturday, and 
the holy places were polluted with blood and all 
manner of outrages. The saint wrote to pope Inno 
cent, begging him to declare void all that had been 
done ; for no injustice could be more notorious. He 
also wrote to beg the concurrence of certain other 
holy bishops of the West. The pope having received 
from Theophilus the acts of the false council at the 
Oak, even by them saw the glaring injustice of its 
proceedings, and wrote to him, exhorting him to ap 
pear in another council, where sentence should be 
given according to the canons of N"ice, meaning by 
those words to condemn the Arian canons of Antioch. 
He also wrote to St. Chrysostom, to his flock, and sev 
eral of his friends : and endeavored to redress these 
evils by a new council : as did also the emperor Hono- 
rius. But Arcadius and Eudoxia found means to pre 
vent its assembling, the very dread of which made 
Theophilus, Severianus, and other ringleaders of the 
faction to tremble. 

St. Chrysostom was suffered to remain at Constan 
tinople two months after Easter. On Thursday, in 
Wlntsun-week, the emperor sent him an order for his 
banishment. The holy man, who received it in the 
church, said to those about him, "Come, let us pray, 
and take leave of the angel of the church.." He took 


leave of the bishops, and, stepping into the baptistery, 
also of St. Olympias and the other deaconesses, who 
were overwhelmed with grief and bathed in tears. 
He then retired privately out of the church, to pre 
vent a sedition, and was conducted by Lucius, a brutish 
captain, into Bithynia, and arrived at Nice on the 
20th of June, 404. After his departure, a fire break 
ing out, burnt down the great church and the senate- 
house, two building s which were the glory of the city: 
but the baptistery was spared by the flames, as it were 
to justify the saint against his calumniators ; for not 
one of the rich vessels was found wanting. In this 
senate-house perished the incomparable statues of the 
muses from Helicon, and other like ornaments, the 
most valuable then known : so that Zozimus looks 
upon this conflagration as the greatest misfortune that 
had ever befallen that city. Palladius ascribes the 
fire to the anger of heaven. Many of the saint s 
friends were put to the most exquisite tortures on this 
account, but no discovery could be made. The Isau- 
rians plundered Asia, and the Huns several other pro 
vinces. Eudoxia ended her life and crimes in childbed 
on the 6th of October following, five days after a 
furious hail-storm had made a dreadful havoc in the 
city. The emperor wrote to St. Nilus, to recommend 
himself and his empire to his prayers. The hermit 
answered him with a liberty of speech which became 
one who neither hoped nor feared any thing from th 


world. " How do you hope," said he, " to see Con 
stantinople delivered from the destroying angel of God, 
after such enormities authorized by laws ? after having 
banished the most blessed John, the pillar of the 
church, the lamp of truth, the trumpet of Jesui 
Christ ! " And again : " You have banished John, the 
greatest light of the earth : At least, do not perse 
vere in your crime." His brother, the emperor Hono- 
rius, wrote still in stronger terms, and several others. 
But in vain ; for certain implacable court ladies and 
sycophants, hardened against all admonitions and 
remorse, had much too powerful an ascendant over 
the unhappy emperor, for these efforts of the saint s 
friends to meet with success. Arsacius, his enemy and 
persecutor, though naturally a soft and weak man, was 
by the emperor s authority intruded into his see. 
The saint enjoyed himself comfortably at Nice : but 
Cucusus was pitched upon by Eudoxia for the place 
of his banishment. He set out from Nice in July, 
404, and suffered incredible hardships from heats, 
fatigues, severity of guards, almost perpetual watch- 
ings, and a fever which soon seized him with pains in 
his breast. He was forced to travel almost all night, 
deprived of every necessary of life, and was wonder 
fully refreshed if he got a little clear water to drink, 
*Vesh bread to eat, or a bed to take a little rest upon. 
All he lamented was the impenitence of his enemies, 
for their own sake : calling impunity in sin, and honot 


conferred by men on that account, the most dreadful 
of all judgments. About the end of August, after a 
rseventy days journey, he arrived at Cucusus, a poor 
town in Armenia, in the deserts of Mount Taurus. 
The good bishop of the place vied with his people in 
slewing the man of God the greatest marks of venera 
tion and civility, and many friends met him there, 
both from Constantinople and Antioch. In this place, 
by sending missionaries and succors, he promoted the 
conversion of many heathen countries, especially among 
the Goths, in Persia and Phoenicia. He appointed 
Constantius, his friend, a priest of Antioch, superior 
of the apostolic missions in Phoenicia and Arabia. 
The letters of Constantius are added to those of St. 
Chrysostom. The seventeen letters of our saint to 
St. Olympias might be styled treatises. He tells her, 
" I daily exult and am transported with joy in my 
heart under my sufferings, in which I find a hidden 
treasure : and I beg that you rejoice on the same ac 
count, and that you bless and praise God, by whose 
mercy we obtain to such a degree the grace of suffer 
ing." He often enlarges on the great evils and most 
pernicious consequences of sadness and dejection of 
spirit, which he calls "the worst of human evils, a 
perpetual domestic rack, a darkness and tempest of 
the mind, an interior war, a distemper which consumes 
the vigor of the soul, and impairs all her faculties." 
He shows that sickness is w he greatest of trials, a um 


not of inaction, but of the greatest merit, the school 
of all virtues, and a true martyrdom. He advises he? 
to use physic, and says it would be a crim nal impa 
tience to wish for death to be freed from sufferings. 
He laments the fell of Pelagius, whose heresies he 
abhorred. He wrote to this lady his excellent treatise, 
That no one can hurt him who docs not hurt himself. 
Arsacius dying in 405, many ambitiously aspired to 
that dignity, whose very seeking it was sufficient to 
prove them unworthy. Atticus, one of this number, 
a violent enemy to St. Chrysostom, was preferred by 
the court, and placed in his chair. The pope refused 
to hold communion with Theophilus or any of the 
abettors of the persecution of our saint. He and 
the emperor Honorius sent five bishops to Constanti 
nople to insist on a council, and that, in the mean 
time, St. Chrysostom should be restored to his see, his 
deposition having been notoriously unjust. But the 
deputies were cast into prison in Thrace, because they 
refused to communicate with Atticus. The perse 
cutors saw that, if the council was held, they would 
be inevitably condemned and deposed by it, therefore 
they stuck at nothing to prevent its meeting. The 
incursions of the Isaurian plunderers obliged St. Chrv- 
sostom to take shelter in the castle of Arabissus, on 
Mount Taurus. He enjoyed a tolerable state of health 
during the year 406 and the winter following, though 
it was extremely cold in those mountains, so that th 


Armenians were surprised to see how his thin, weak 
body was able to support it. When the Isaurians had 
quitted the neighborhood, he returned to Cucusus 
But his impious enemies, seeing the whole Christian 
world both honor and defend him, resolved to rid the 
world of him. With this view they procured an order 
from the emperor that he should be removed to Ara- 
bissus, and thence to Pytius, a town situated on the 
Euxine sea, near Colchis, at the extremity of the 
empire, on the frontiers of the Sarmatians, the most 
barbarous of the Scythians. Two officers were ordered 
to convey him thither in a limited number of days, 
through very rough roads, with a promise of promo 
tion, if, by hard usage, he should die in their hands. 
One of these was not altogether destitute of humanity, 
but the other could not bear to hear a mild word 
spoken to him. They often travelled amidst scorch 
ing heats, from which his head, that was bald, suffered 
exceedingly. In the most violent rains they forced 
him out of doors, obliging him to travel till the water 
ran in streams down his back and bosom. When 
they arrived at Coin ana Pontica, to Cappadocia, he 
was very sick ; yet was hurried five or six miles to the 
martyrium or chapel in which lay the relics of the 
martyr St. Basiliscus. The saint was lodged in the 
oratory of the priest. In the night, that holy martyr 
appearing to him, said, " Be of good courage, brothel 
John; to-morrow we shall be too-ether." The con 


fessor was filled with joy at this news, and begged 
that he might stay there till eleven o clock. This 
made the guards drag him out the more violently ; 
but when they had travelled four miles, perceiving 
him in a dying condition, they brought him back to 
the oratory. He there changed all his clothes to his 
very shoes, putting on his best attire, which was all 
white, as if he meant it for his heavenly nuptials. He 
was yet fasting, and having received the holy sacra 
ment, poured forth his last prayer, which he closed 
with his usual doxology : Glory be to God for all 
things. Having said Amen, and signed himself with 
the sign of the cross, he sweetly gave up his soul to 
God on the feast of the exaltation of the holy cross, 
the fourteenth of September, as appears from the 
Mensea, in 407, having been bishop nine years and 
almost seven months. 

His remains were interred by the body of St. Basi 
liscus, a great concourse of holy virgins, monks, and 
persons of all ranks from a great distance flocking to 
his funeral. The pope refused all communion with 
those who would not allow his name a place in the 
Dvptics or registers of Catholic bishops deceased. 

J i ^> I 

It was inserted at Constantinople by Atticus, in 417, 
nd at Alexandria, by St. Cyril, in 419 ; for Nestorius 
tells him that he then venerated the ashes of John 
against his well. His body was translated to Constan 
tinople in 434, by St. Proclus, with the utmost pomp, 


the emperor Theodosius and nis sister Pulcheria accoin- 
panying St. Proclus in the procession, and begging 
pardon for the sins of their parents, who had unad 
visedly persecuted this servant of God. The precious 
remains were laid in the church of the apostles, the 
bury ing- pi ace of the emperors and bishops, on the 
27th of January, 438; on which day he is honored 
by the Latins : but the Greeks keep his festival on the 
13th of November. His ashes were afterwards car 
ried to Home, and rest under an altar which bears 
his name in the Vatican church. The saint was low 
in stature ; and his thin, mortified countenance bespoke 
the severity of his life. The austerities of his youth, 
his cold solitary abode in the mountains, and the 
fatigues of continual preaching, had weakened his 
breast, which occasioned his frequent distempers. But 
the hardships of his exile were such as must have 
destroyed a person of the most robust constitution. 
Pope Celestine, St. Austin, St. Nilus, St. Isidore of 
Pelusium, and others, call him the illustrious doctor 
of churches, whose glory shines on every side, who 
fills the earth with the light of his profound sacred 
learning, and who instructs by his works the remotest 
corners of the world, preaching everywhere, even 
where his voice could not reach. They style him the 
wise interpreter of the secrets of God, the sun of the 
whole universe, the lamp of virtue, and the most 
shining star of the earth. The incomparable writing! 


of this glorious saint, make his standing and mosi 
authentic eulogium. 

In the character which St. Chrysostom has in several 
places drawn of divine and fraternal charity and holy 
zeal, we have a true portraiture of his holy soul. He 
excellently shows, from the words of our Lord to St. 
Peter, that the primary and essential disjwsition of a 
pastor of souls is a pure and most ardent love of God, 
whose love for these souls is so great, that he has 
delivered his Son to death for them. Jesus Christ 
shed his blood to save this flock, which he commits 
to the care of St. Peter. Nothing can be stronger 
or more tender than the manner in which this saint 
frequently expresses his charity and solicitude for his 
spiritual children. When he touches this topic, his 
words are all fire and flame, and seem to breathe the 
fervor of St. Peter, the zeal of St. Paul, and the 
charity of Moses. This favorite of God was not afraid, 
for the salvation of his people, to desire to be sepa 
rated from the company of the saints, provided this 
could have been done without falling from the love 
of God; though he knew that nothing would more 
closely unite him forever to God, than this extraordi 
nary effort of his love. The apostle of nations desired 
to be an anathema for his brethren, and for their 
salvation; and the prince of the apostles gave the 
.strongest proof of the ardor of his love for Christ, bj 
the floods of tears which he shed for his flock. From 


the same furnace of divine love, St. Chrysostom dre* 
the like sentiments towards his flock, -pined with a 
sovereign contempt of all earthly things ; another dis 
tinguishing property of charity, which he describes in 
the following words : " Those who burn with a spir 
itual love, consider as nothing all that is shining or 
precious on earth. We are not to be suprised if we 
understand not this language, who have no experience 
of this sublime virtue. For whoever should be in 
flamed with the fire of the perfect love of Jesus 
Christ, would be in such dispositions with regard to 
the earth, that he would be indifferent both to its 
honors and to its disgrace, and would be no more 
concerned about its trifles than if he was alone in the 
world. He would despise sufferings, scourges, and 
dungeons, as if they were endured in another s body, 
not in his own ; and would be as insensible to the 
pleasures and enjoyments of the world, as we are to 
the bodies of the dead, or as the dead are to their 
own bodies. He would be as pure from the stain of 
any inordinate passions, as gold perfectly refined is 
from all rust or spot. And as flies beware of falling 
into the flames, and keep at a distance, so irregular 
passions dare not approach him." 




Extracted from Ancient Ecclesiastical Writers. 

From the Third Book of tlie Lives of the Fathers, 


1. AN ancient father said one day to his disciples 
brethren, if we hate the repose of the present life, the 
pleasures of the body, the gratification of its appetites, 
and seek not the honor that is from man, the Lord 
Jesus will then give us the honor and glory of heaven, 
the repose of eternal life, and never ending joys with 
his angels. 

2. An ancient father, who had many years led an 
iinchoretical life in the heart of the wilderness, in thfl 


practice of extraordinary abstinences and coi tinual la 
bors, being one day visited by some of his brethren 
after admiring his patience and perseverance, they 
asked him how he was able to endure so many trials 
and great sufferings as he was obliged to undergo in 
that dry and frightful solitude ? " brethren," said 
he, " all the labors and sufferings of the many years 
I have been here are not comparable to one hour of 
suffering in the flames of hell ; wherefore, in order tc 
escape them, we must cheerfully undergo the hard 
ships and labors of the short time of our mortal life. 
We must mortify ourselves here, that we may find 
never-ending rest hereafter in the happy mansions of 
the world to come." 

3. The emperor Theodosius having heard that a 
certain religious hermit lived a recluse and penitential 
life in a small cell near the suburbs of Constantinople, 
and being desirous to see this servant of God, he went 
one day alone to his cell and knocked at the door. 
The hermit having let him in, they, according to the 
custom of the religious in their visits, first made their 
prayer together, and then sat down. The emperor 
inquired of him concerning the employment and 
manner of living of the holy fathers in Egypt. They 
all pray, said the hermit, for your salvation. Theodo 
sius looked about to see what he had in his cell, and 
discovering nothing but some dry bread in a basket, 
he said : father, give me your benediction, and let us 


sh ourselves together. The hermit put some salt 
into water, and then soaked the dry bread in it, of 

which they made their meals together, and when they 
had done, he presented the emperor with a cup of 

water. Theodosius said to him : Do you know who I 
am ? God knows who you are, said the hermit. " I 
am Theodosius the emperor," said he, " and I came 
hither to be edified by you. how happy are you 
solitaries, who being altogether free and disengaged 
from worldly cares and occupations, enjoy a calm and 
quiet life, having no other solicitude but for the salva 
tion of your souls, nor any other thoughts but how to 
make yourselves worthy of the heavenly rewards of 
that life, and kingdom to come, that knows no end. 
But I, though born to the purple, and seated on the 
imperial throne, declare to you in truth, that I never 
sit down to my meals without having some cares upon 
my mind." Having said this, and testified a great 
deal of honor and esteem for the servant of God, he 
returned home. But the hermit suspecting, that in 
consequence of this visit from the emperor, a great 
number of all conditions, not excepting even the court 
iers and senators, would be frequently coming to inter 
rupt his devotion ; and being also apprehensive lest he 
should come at length to take a complacency in their 

isits, and in the honors they would show him, and 
thus fall, by degrees, into the nets of Satan, by pride 
and vain-glory, in order to secure himself from the 


danger, he departed that very night, and made the 
best of his way into Egypt, where he associated him- 
celt 1 with the holy fathers of the Egyptian deserts. 

4. Amongst the many holy inhabitants of the 
Egyptian deserts, there was an ancient anchoret named 
Agatho, who was much admired for his extraordi 
nary patience and humility. Some of the brethren, 
with the design of putting his virtue to a trial, went 
one day to his cell and complained of the scandal his 
pride and self-conceit had given by his contempt of 
others, setting them at nought, and taking the liberty 
to censure and detract them, and all this, said they, 
because, being yourself vicious and given to lewdness, 
you think to disguise your own vices by charging 
them upon others. The holy man heard all they 
said without discovering the least emotion or disturb 
ance of soul, or denying any part of the charge ; on 
the contrary, casting himself at their feet, he confess 
ed himself to be indeed a most grievous sinner, and 
begged they would be so charitable as to intercede to 
our Lord for a poor miserable wretch, loaded as he 
was with so many crimes, to the end he might obtain 
mercy and forgiveness for them through the assistance 
of their prayers. But, said they, we must tell you 
moreover, that some people say you are also a heretic. 
O no, said the Saint, however wretched I am in other 
respects, or how guilty soever I may be of innumera 
ble other sins, I am not so great a wretch as to forfeit 


my share in Jesus Christ by heresy ; far be this 
thought from my soul ! The brethren hereupon cast 
ing themselves at his feet, desired to know why he, 
who had suffered so many other false accusation?, 
without the least emotion or resistance, showed so 
much horror and so great a repugnance at being ae- 
cused of heresy \ The man of God answered, that 
as to the other accusations, it was the part of humility 
to love to be despised, and be willing to pass for a 
grievous sinner* to bear also with reproaches .and 
calumnies, after the example of Jesus Christ himself,, 
who suffered in silence such treatment as this from the 
Jews for our instruction ; but that there. was a particu 
lar enormity and malignity in heresy, which is an ob 
stinate opposition to the revealed truths of God, by 
means whereof the soul is separatee) in such manner 
from Jesus Christ, as to destroy faith, the very foun 
dation of its salvation, and is given up as it were to 
the devil, without reserve ; therefore, as no one ought 
to be willing to pass for an obstinate enemy of Jesus 
Christ, or of any of his revealed truths, so no one 
ought to be willing to pass for a heretic. 

5. There was in a certain monastery of Egypt a 
monk named Eulalius, endued in an extraordinary de 
gree with the grace of humility. As there were not 
wanting in that numerous community several luke 
warm brethren, who .had been guilty of frequent 
faults and negligences, ..particularly in breaking or de- 


R troy ing the earthen vessels and other utensils of the 
rnonasteiy, they were accustomed to lay all upon Eula- 
lius, whom they found ever ready to bear the blame. 
On these occasions the superiors often took him to task, 
whilst he, instead of pleading not guilty, prostrated 
himself before them, and begged pardon for his faults 
and negligences. The rule of the monastery enjoined 
penances for these faults, which he cheerfully under 
went, even to the passing often two or three days to 
gether without eating. But as fresh accusations still 
were brought against him, the ancient religious, who 
were ignorant that he endured all this for the sake of 
Christ, and for the exercise of his patience and humil 
ity, represented to the abbot, that as they found no 
amendment in Eulalius, it became necessary to think 
of taking some other course with him, since by his 
neo-licrences most of the utensils of the house were 

& S 

already destroyed, and that there would be no keep 
ing any thing whole in the monastery so long as he 
remained amongst them. The abbot desired some 
time to consider on the manner, and in the mean 
while begging light of heaven to direct him, he learnt 
from God in prayer the extraordinary merit, patience, 
and humility of Eulalius, which his divine Majesty was 
also pleased, not long after, to declare by a miracle, in 
the presence of all the religious. Upon this the 
brethren began to esteem him as a saint, and to honor 
and praise him as such on all occasions, which became 


to sensible a mortification to this humble servant of 
God, that he heavily complained of his misfortune in 
having now lost as he said, the treasure of humility, 
which by the grace of Christ he had for so long a 
time been laboring to acquire. At length, to fly from 
all this honor and esteem, he withdrew himself pri 
vately by night from the monastery into a desert, 
where he might be unknown to all men, and there 
chose a lonesome cave for his habitation, in which he 
spent the remainder of the days of his mortality, in 
order to guard his humility from those dangers to 
which it was before exposed in the midst of applause 
and esteem. 

6. A certain solitary having come one day to the 
monastery of abbot Sylvanus, on mount Sinai, and 
finding the brethren all at work, said to them : Why 
do you labor for the meat that perisheth ? did not 
Mary choose the better part ? The abbot turning to 
his disciple Zacharias, bid him hand that brother a 
book, and conduct him to an empty cell. When the 
hour came at which the monks were accustomed to 
take their meal, viz. about three in the afternoon, the 
stranger was incessantly looking out, in expectation 
that the abbot would send for him to the refectory ; 
but finding that the hour had passed, and no one came 
to call him, he went and asked the abbot if the monks 
did not dine that day ? He told him, yes, they had 
dined ; but that, as for his part, they had not sent fo* 


him, because they understood he was a spiritual man* 
and had no need of the meat that perisheth ; whereas 
t,hey, being carnal, and standing in need of food, were 
under a necessity of laboring for it ; but you have, 
said he, with Mary, chosen the better part by reading 
the whole day long, without requiring this perishable 
food. The brother having begged pardon, and ac 
knowledged his error, the abbot desired him to re 
member, that as Martha wanted the assistance of 
Mary, so Mary could not do alone, without the help 
of Martha. 

7. Abbot Moses was accustomed to say, that as 
when a general besieges a city he endeavors to prevent 
any provisions being brought to the besieged, in order 
that through hunger and want the enemy may be 
obliged to deliver up their city ; so the man that de 
sires to overcome his carnal passions, must starve then* 
out by fasting and abstinence. 

8. A certain religions man having received an in 
jury from another, came to complain of it to one of 
the ancient fathers. The old man bid him, on this 
and the like occasions, to think with himself that the 
injury or affront was not levelled at him, but at hia 
sins ; and advised him to sit down contented, and to 
sav, all this is for my sins. 

9. Another good brother, when any perscn affront 
ed him, scoffed at him, or injured him, used to rejoice 
and to say : these are my friends who are giving ma 


an opportunity of advancing in virtue ; whereas they 
that extol and applaud us are rather our enemies ac 
cording to that of Isaiah, iii. 12. : my people, they 
that call thce blessed, the same deceive thee, and des 
troy the way of thy steps. 

10. A brother having asked an ancient father fo 
give him some short prescription by the observance of 
which he might be saved. The father told him the 
best prescription he could give for the security of his 
soul, was to overcome himself so far as to bear the 
greatest injuries and reproaches with meekness and 

11. St. Macarius used to say, He that overcomes 
himself in all things is a monk indeed. For if a per 
son, whilst he corrects or rebukes another for his faults, 
suffers himself to be moved to anger, he is only grati 
fying his own passion. No one ought to run the risk 
of losing his own soul, whilst he pretends to save that 
of another. 

12. The abbot Sylvanus, being asked by certain 
brethren to speak something for their edification, de 
sired his disciple Zacharias to give them a lesson. 
The disciple taking off his outward habit, laid it upon 
the ground, and stamped with his feet upon it, saying : 
" No one can be a truly religious man who is not will 
ing to be trodden under foot in this manner." 

13. Some of the brethren having extolled, in tho 
hearing of St. Antony, the virtues of one of the monks, 


the Saint, putting him to a trial, found that he could 
not bear an injury ; whereupon the man of God told 
him, that he resembled a building which had a beau 
tiful front, but which lay open behind to thieves and 

14. It was observed by one of the fathers, that all 
the labors of a monk are vain without humility ; for 
since humility, said he, is the forerunner of charity, as 
John the Baptist was the precursor of Christ, drawing 
all to him, so in like manner humility draws men to 
charity, that is, to God himself; for God is charity, 
1 John iv. 

15. St. Antony having seen one day in a vision the 
whole earth as a large field, covered on every side 
with the nets and snares of the enemy ; whereupon 
sighing, he cried out, who shall be able to pass over 
them, or escape them ? and immediately he heard a 
voice answering, Humility alone can pass secure. 

16. A monk in a certain monastery having com 
mitted a fault, for which he was severely rebuked bj 
the rest of the brethren, went away to St. Antony. 
The brethren having followed him thither in order to 
bring him back, they warmly upbraided him with his 
faults, in the presence of the Saint, which he, on his 
part, as warmly denied. The holy abbot Paphnucius, 
Rurnamed Cephala, happening to be present, put a 
stop to the contention, by the means of a parable : 
" Whilst I stood one day on the banks of a river, 1 


saw a man sunk into the mire up to his knees, wheh 
behold there came other men stretching out theii 
hands, endeavoring to help him out ; but instead oi 
succeeding in their attempt, they pushed him further 
in, even up to the neck." St. Antony hearing the 
parable, and approving of the moral lesson it convey 
ed, said of St. Paphnucius : " Behold a man who has 
the right notion of the way of reclaiming the faulty, 
arid of saving their souls." The brethren presently 
took the hint, and begging pardon tor their heat, re 
ceived the brother in the tender b( vels of the mercy 
of Jesus Christ. 

17. St. Pemen, alias Pastor, gave it as an invariable 
rule to his disciples : " Never to do their own will, but 
rather humble themselves to do the will of their neigh 

18. A certain anchoret, who dwelt in a cave not far 
distant from a religious community in great absti 
nence and sanctity of life, being one day visited by 
some of the monks, they prevailed on him to eat be 
fore his usual time, and then asked him if it was no 
pain or trouble to him to be put out of his way, by 
eating contrary to his custom ? " No," replied he, 
u nothing gives me pain or trouble but following my 
own will." 

19. The holy abbot Agatho coming one day into 
the neighboring city to sell his work, found a certain 
stranger lying in a bye corner very sick, without an* 


one to take care of him ; the servant of God, on be 
holding so great an object of charity, instead of return 
ing back to the wilderness, hired a lodging in the city, 
to which he carried the sick man, and attended on 
him for the space of four months, working in the mean 
time with his own hands, in order to procure for him 
all necessaries, aid, and comfort ; after which, the sick 
man being now perfectly recovered, the Saint returned 
back again to his cell. 

20. An ancient servant of God, on seeing his disci 
ple sick, bid him be of good comfort, and return thanks 
to God for this visitation : " For," said he, " if thou 
art but iron, the fire will serve to take the rust away 
from thec ; and if thou art gold, it will refine tbee, and 
purify thee. Resign thyself then, my dear brother ; 
tor since it hath pleased God to send thee this sick 
ness, who art thou that thou shouldest grieve or re 
pine at the accomplishment of his will ? rather suf 
fer all with patience and resignation, and let thy only 
prayer be, that God would deal with thee according to 
his pleasure." 

21. An ancient religious, who was accustomed to be 
visited with sickness, happening to pass one wholo 
year without any illness, he wept and grieved exceed 
ingly, saying, " Lord, thou hast forsaken me, for thou 
hast not once visited me this year." O what a jus* 
notion he must have had of the inestimable value a 
patient sufferings. 


22. When the holy abbot Agatho was drawing 
rear to his end, and had lain for the space of three 
days with his eyes fixed, in silence, some of the breth 
ren touching him, said : " Father, where are you now ?" 
He answered, " I am standing before the judgment 
seat of God." " Why then," said they, " are you 
afraid ? " " According to the utmost of my power," 
replied he, " I have always endeavored to keep the 
commandments of my God ; but being a poor frail 
mortal, how do I know whether my works are pleas 
ing to him or not?" "But do you not trust," said 
they, " that they are pleasing to him ? " "I dare not 
trust to my works," said he, " in his sight ; for the 
judgment of God is very different from the judgment 
of men." 

23. A certain brother having asked one of the fath 
ers how the soul might attain to perfect humility : he 
answered, " by thinking only on her own evils, and 
not on those of others." 

24. Nothing gives so much pleasure to the enemy, 
said the abbot Pemen, as when a person will not dis 
cover his temptations to his superior or director. 

25. A certain father observed, that as the flies can 
not come near a pot that is boiling hot, but only rest 
on such things as are neither hot nor cold, and there 
deposit their maggosts : so the devils are kept at a 
distance by such religious as are quite fervent in tho 
love and service of God, but have so great a powes 


over such as are but lukewarm, as to defile and cor 
rupt them with sin. 

26. An ancient father gave the following lesson to 
his disciple : " Think every day," said he, u that the 
hour of thy death is at hand, and as if thou weii 
already shut up in thy tomb, be not solicitous abou 
this world. Let the fear of God continually abide 
\\ith thee. Believe thyself to be inferior to every one. 
Speak no evil of any one because God knows all 
things ; and be at peace with all men, and the Lord 
shall at all times give rest to thy soul." 

27. Abbot John used to say, that a religious in his 
cell ought to resemble one sitting under a tree ; for as 
the latter, on seeing any wild beast or serpent coming 
towards him, climbs up the tree, that he may get out 
of their reach ; so the former, on perceiving any evil 
thoughts approaching, ought to ascend up to God by 
the tree of prayer. 

28. Some of the brethren coming one day to visit 
the holy abbot Lucius, he inquired of them what kind 
of work, they followed ? They answered ; they did 
not work, but, according to the Apostles, prayed with 
out ceasiny. " But do you not eat and sleep," said the 
&ther, " and who prays for you then ? " To which 
having made no reply, " Now, I will tell you," said 
he, "the manner in which I endeavor to pray withou 
ceasiny, and yet never fail to work with my hands. 
While! ( am making baskets, or cords, or the like, J 


lay to my God : Have mercy on me, God, accord 
ing to thy great mercies ; and according to the mul 
titude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity. 
Thus, when I have finished my work, I am enabled to 
give some part of the price of it to the poor server, is 
of Christ, to engage them thereby to pray for the tof- 
giveness of my sins, even whilst I am eating or sleep 
ing ; and thus they by praying for me, help to make 
my prayer continual, and without ceasing." 

29. A certain young man, desirous to embrace a 
monastic life, was prevented from so doing for some 
time by his mother; but as he still persevered in beg 
ging her to let him go, by often repeating that he was 
resolved to save his soul, she at length consented to 
his entering into a monastery. Being admitted to the 
habit, although an utter stranger to the spirit of relig 
ion, he led for many years a very tepid and negligent 
course of life. His mother having in the mean time 
died, and he soon after falling grievously sick, lay for 
some time in a trance, as if dead, in which he seemed 
to be carried before the judgment seat of God, where 
he met his mother amongst others expecting their 
sentence. " How now, my son," said she to him, 
" art thou also brought hither, to receive with us the 
sentence of damnation ? What is become of that 
specious determination of thine, which thou so often 
repeatedst, that thou wast resolved to save thy soul ? * 
The horror and confusion that oppressed him, upon 


hearing this reproach from his mother, was so inex 
pressible, that ho seemed to himself to stand, as it 
were, upon the brink of hell, till he heard a voice, or 
dering that he should be sent back again, as not being 
the person called for, and that such another of a 
neighboring monastery, that was of the same name, 
should be brought thither. Hereupon, having come 
to himself, he related to those about him all he had 
seen and heard, and desired that one of them would 
instantly go to the neighboring monastery and in 
quire whether the brother alluded to was departed 
this life, and being informed that he was just then 
dead, they were confirmed in their belief of the truth 
of what he had related. As to this young monk, no 
sooner was he recovered from his sickness, than he 
shut himself up in his cell, and applied himself with 
such diligence to the care of his salvation, as to think 
now of nothing else, but to weep night and day, and 
do penance for his former negligences and sins ; and 
although some of the brethren advised him to be 
more moderate in his tears and other penances, lest 
the excess of his compunction might prove prejudicial 
to his health, he nevertheless persevered in his peni 
tential labors to the end, telling them upon these oc 
casions : " If I could not bear the reproach which I 
heard from my mother, how shall I be able to endure 

the reproaches of Christ and his angels at the day of 

Judgment ? " 


SO. A certain monk in the deserts of Egypt, having 
had a sister that followed a wicked course of life in 
the city, where she enticed many into sin, his brethren 
persuaded him to go in search of her, in order to re 
claim her from her wickedness, and rescue her soul, as 
well as the souls of many others who were ensnared 
by her beauty, from the paths that lead to eternal 
perdition. When he came near the place where she 
dwelt, one who knew him, ran and told her that her 
brother was come from the desert to see her. Upon 
hearing this she immediately left her company, and 
going out with joy to meet him, offered to salute 
him ; but lie keeping at a distance, earnestly besought 
her to have pity on her soul, expatiating on the dread 
ful state of life in which she was engaged, and th 
dismal consequences she had to apprehend for eternity, 
if she did not immediately return to God. This ex 
hortation he delivered in so nervous and pathetic a 
manner, that, seized with dread and horror, she asked 
him, trembling, whether there remained any hopes of 
salvation for her, and whether it was not now too late 
for her to think of returning to God ? He assured 
her it was not, provided she would be quite in earnest 
in her application to the throne of divine mercy, by 
the practice of true penance. Hereupon, casting her 
self at his feet, she begged that he would take her 
along with him into the desert, where she might do 
penance for her sins. Go then, said he, and cover 


your head (for she had run forth to meet him bare 
headed), and then come along with me. O brother, 
said she, let us make no delay ; is it not better for me 
to suffer the disgrace of going bareheaded, than ta 
enter any more into a house that has been the shop 
of my iniquities ? They therefore departed with speed 
towards the desert, the brother preaching penance to 
her on their way thither ; till observing some of the 
brethren coming towards them, he desired her to step 
aside, and keep at some distance, for fear of any one s 
taking scandal at seeing him in the company of a wo 
man ; for every one, said he, don t know that your are 
my sister. She did so : and as soon as the brethren 
had passed by, he went in search of her, and found 
her lying dead on the ground, with her feet all bloody, 
for she had walked the whole way barefoot. Having 
lamented her death, he went and related all that had 
happened to the ancient religious. Whilst these ser 
vants of God were at a loss what judgment they 
should make with regard to her soul, dying as she 
did, so shortly after so sinful a life, without any time 
to do penance, one of them learnt by revelation, that 
she had forsaken all she had in the world, and been 
solicitous for nothing but the healing of the wounds 
1 of her soul, in a word, as she had so bitterly wept, and 
grievously lamented her sins, the divine goodness bad 
accepted her penance, and shown her mercy. 


From the fifth Book of the Lives of the Fathers, translates 
from the Greek of an ancient ecclesiastical Writer into 
Latin, by Pelagius, Deacon of Rome, who was made 
Pope, Anno 558. 

31. WHEN the holy abbot John, surnamed the 
Jhvarf, drew near his end, his disciples entreated him 
to leave them, by way of legacy, some short whole 
some lesson of Christian perfection, he sighed and said 
to them : " I never followed my own will, nor did 1 
ever teach any other what I had not first practised 

32. Abbot Sisois being asked which was the best 
way to obtain peace and rest for the soul, he replied : 
" He contemptible in your own eyes cast pleasures 
behind your back be free from all earthly cares, and 
you shall assuredly find rest." 

33. Another holy man prescribed for this end the 
following precepts : u Pray incessantly to God that he 
would grant you compunction and humility ; think 
always on your own sins, and do not presume to jud^e 
others ; be subject and obedient to all ; avoid fami 
liarity with women, boys, or heretics ; place no con 
fidence whatever in yourselves ; restrain your tongue 
and your sensual appetite ; contend with no man ; 
contradict no one in discourse, and your mind shall b 
at peace. 1 


34. A certain brother came to visit abbot Moses m 
tlie desert of Scete, in order to learn of him the way 
to perfection, * Go," said the Saint, " and keep thyself 
retired and recollected in thy cell, and thy cell shall 
teach thee all things." 

35. Some brethren going from Scete to visit SU 
Antony, entered into a boat that was to convey them 
part of the way up the Nile, in which they found a 
strange old man, who was also going to St. Antony. 
Whilst they were entertaining each other, dining their 
passage, with discourses upon different subjects, the old 
man sat by himself in silence and recollection. Find 
ing, when they came to land, that the old man was 
also going to St. Antony, they went along with him. 
St. Antony, on their arrival, told them they had met 
with a good companion in that servant of God ; and 
>ou, said he, father, addressing himself to the old 
man, have found them good company. " I believe," 
replied he, " that they are good ; but having no door 
to their dwelling, whoever pleases goes into the stable, 
and takes out the beast to ride upon it ; " alluding to 
their want of recollection, and setting no guard upon 
their tongue, but uttering whatever came uppermost 
in their mind. 

86. An ancient religious seeing another laugh, said 
" How can you laugh, since we must by and by ap 
pear before the great Lord of heaven and earth, to 
give a strict accow f , of our whole lives 2" 


37. A certain gentleman came one clay tc the church 
of the wilderness of Scete with a bag of money, which 
he desired the priest, the superior, to distribute amongst 
the brethren. The priest told him they did not want 
it ; but as the gentleman became very pressing, and 
would not be content except he would receive it, he 
put the money into a basket, and setting it in the en 
trance of the church cried out to the brethren : if amj 
one wants, let him here take what he ivants : but so 
for from touching it, some of them would not so much 
as look on it. The superior then addressing the gen 
tleman, said : " our Lord, Sir has accepted of your of 
fering, go now and give it to the poor ; and thus lie 
dismissed him, much edified with their disinterest 

38. Another brought a sum of money to a brother, 
who was a leper, saying : keep this for your own use, 
because you are old and infirm. The old man an 
swered : " would you then deprive me, Sir, of my nurs 
ing father, who has fed me threescore years ? Behold 
for so long a time, notwithstanding my infirmity, 1 
have never been in want; for God has always provided 
for me, therefore I cannot distrust him now." 

39. The brethren having desired one of the ancient 
fathers to remit something of his great labors and aus 
terities, he answered: "believe me, my children, I am 
of opinion, that Abraham himself when he saw the 
greatness of the eternal towards of heaven, was sorry 


he had not labored more than he did whilst lie re 
niained here upon earth." 

40. As a certain hermit, who dwelt in a cell near 
the wilderness, at the distance of twelve miles from 
any water, was one day going for water, he found him 
self so much exhausted and tired with the journey, 
that he began to blame himself for taking so much 
unnecessary pains, and to think of changing his abode, 
and building himself a cell near the spring. Whilst 
he had this thought in his mind, he heard one behind 
him numbering his steps ; and turning about, he saw 
an angel, who told him he was commissioned from 
heaven to take an exact account of his laborious steps, 
which should all be hereafter rewarded. This vision 
encouraged the good old man, and made him not only 
give up his design of fixing his habitation near the 
water, but also determined him to remove his cell to a 
still further distance, since the divine goodness was 
pleased to reward all his steps in so bountiful a 

41. There was an ancient hermit in Thebais, who 
dwelt in a cave, together with a virtuous young man, 
his disciple. It was his custom to deliver an exhorta 
tion to the young hermit every evening for his instruc 
tion, direction, and progress in virtue and piety, and 
after spending some time together in prayer, the old 
man gave him his blessing, and sent him to bed. It 
lappened one day, wben the servants of God had eii- 


Pertained some visitors with discourses of piety till a 
late hour, that after their departure, whilst he was 
making his exhortation, as usual, to his disciple, he fell 
fast asleep. The brother waited in expectation of the 
father s awaking, that they might make their prayer, 
according to custom, before he went to bed : but the 
old man slept on so sound, as not to awake till after 
midnight. In the mean time the young man, finding 
he slept so long, and being wearied and sleepy him 
self, WHS strongly tempted to leave him and retire to 
bed : but he resisted the temptation, and continued to 
remain with him. Shortly after the temptation re 
turned, and became very troublesome to him ; but he 
again got the better of it, and drove it away : and in 
this manner was he violently assaulted seven different 
times, but still overcame the temptation, and forced 
himself to stay till his master awaked. After mid 
night the father awaking, and finding the young dis 
ciple with. him, asked him why he did not go to bed? 
Because, replied he, you did not discharge me. Why 
then, said the father did you not awake me ? I could 
riot presume, said he, to disturb you. Wherefore, it 
being now midnight rising up, they began their matins 
together, and when tl.ey had finished, the father sent 
mm to take his rest Whilst the old man was sitting 
afterwards by himself, he fell into a trance or ecstasy, 
when a stranger pointed out to him a glorious palace, 
HI which was placed a throne, and over the throna 


seven crowns, telling him that they were destined by 
cur Lord as a reward for the virtue and piety of hia 
disciple ; and that as to the seven crowns, he had pur 
chased them that very night. The father having asked 
him in the morning what he had done in the night? 
he answered, nothing particular; but as he insisted 
upon his telling him all that had passed, even to his 
very thoughts, he at length assured him lie knew of 
nothing whatever, except that he had been seven times 
strongly tempted to leave him whilst he continued 
asleep, and to retire to bed; but as he had not dis 
charged him, according to custom, he had forced him 
self to stay : hence the father was given to understand, 
that every victory over one s self purchases a crown 
from <od, and how much it imports to overcome our 
selves, even in small matters. 

42. St. Antony being told one day of a young re 
ligious man who had been already so far favored with 
miraculous gifts, that the very wild beasts of the des 
ert obeyed him. The Saint, apprehending some os 
tentation and pride in the manner of his proceeding, 
said, he seems to resemble a ship richly laden, which 
is in danger of being shipwrecked before it reaches the 
haven. Not long after, the Saint being in company 
with some of his disciples, began all on a sudden to 
weep and lament, and being asked the reason, he ex 
claimed, Oh ! a great pillar of the church is just now 
fallen ; go ye and look after such a one, naming thi 


fonng religious man. They went and found Kim in & 
most, melancholy way, for having just then committed 
a mortal sin ; but he begged they would desire their 
holy father to cbtain for him by his prayers, a reprieve 
of ten days, that in that time he might make satisfac 
tion for his crime. But this was not granted him, for 
within five days he was called out of this life. 

43. When a certain brother came one day to visit 
the holy abbot Serapion, he begged of him, according 
to the custom of the ancient religious in their visits, to 
give out the prayer which was to be made when they 
first met ; which he refused, saying he was a poor sin 
ner, and unworthy to wear the religious habit. In 
like manner, when the Saint offered to wash his feet, 
according to the custom, he would not permit him, 
still alledging his great unworthiness. The holy man, 
after having entertained him at table with what his 
cell could afford, dismissed him with this charitable 
?,dvice : " My son, if you desire to make due progress 
in religion, return to your cell, and there, attending to 
God and yourself, employ yourself in working with 
your hands ; for coming abroad in this manner is not 
so good for you as it would be to remain at home." 
The brother on hearing these words was so much dis 
turbed and offended, as to discover his displeasure and 
resentment by the change of his countenance ; which 
the holy abbot observing, said to him : " A little while 
ago vou said you was a poor sinner, and accuse:! your- 


self as one who were not worthy to tread upon the 
earth, how comes it then that you are so much di$ 
turbed at the charitable admonition I have given you I 
If you have a real desire to be humble, you must 
learn to bear patiently the things that others lay upon 
you, and not be ever saying reproachful things of your 
self which you would not be willing another should 
believe of you. * The brother having acknowledged 
his fault departed, highly edified with the lessons he 
received from the Saint. 

44. When the holy abbot Moses being told that 
the judge of the province, who had heard of his emi 
nent sanctity, was coming to visit him in his cell in 
the desert of Scete, the man of God to shun this visit 
left his cell, and retired towards the marsh. In his 
way he met the judge with his train, who not know 
ing him, inquired of him where the cell of the abbot 
Moses was ? Why do you inquire, said he, after that 
worthless wretch? He is one that is void both of 
sense and religion. Whereupon the judge went to 
the church, and told the clergy that he came into the 
desert rn purpose to visit abbot Moses, and to be edi- 
oed by his conversation, but that he had met with an 
old man who had given him a vile character. Pray, 
sir, said they, what sort of a person was he who gave 
so bad a character of that holy man ? A tall, black 
man, said the judge, with his habit very much worn. 
It w;is abbot Moses himself, said thev, who spot- t u* 


af himself, to avoid being visited and honored by vou. 
Upon hearing of which the judge departed very much 
edified with the Saint s humility. This was that samt, 
Moses who had ibrmerly been a captain of a band of 
obbers, but who after his conversion became not only 
n illustrious penitent, but so eminent in all virtue and 
sanctity as to be raised to the dignity of a priest, and 
superior of the holy monastery of Scete, and after his 
death to be enrolled amongst the Saints. See the 
Roman Martyrology, August twenty-eight. 

45. A brother having committed a fault for which 
he was expelled the convent of Abbot Elias, went to 
Saint Antony on his mountain, and after remaining a 
while with him he sent him back to the convent, but 
the brethren refusing to receive him, he returned again 
to Saint Antony. The Saint sent him back again the 
second time with this message : " A ship that was cast 
away at sea had lost all its cargo, but with much ado 
the empty vessel has been drawn to the shore; and 
would you, my brethren, after it has been thus brought 
:o land go and sink it entirely ? " The brethren un 
derstanding the meaning of the Saint presently com 
plied, and received the brother again into their con 

4(3. Another brother had fallen into some sin, on 
eceount of which the priest bid him go out of the 
church ; whereupon the abbot Besarion, who was 
present, rose up, and went out with him, saying, " I 


also am a sinner as well as he." This was the great 
Besarion, of whose extraordinary sanctity and wonder 
ful miracles frequent mention is made in ancient 
monuments, whose name is recorded in the Roman 
Martyrology amongst the Saints on the seventeenth 
of June. 

47. A certain priest was accustomed to come from 
time to time to the cell of a hermit who lived in tho 
wilderness, to celebrate mass and to administer to him 
the blessed sacrament, till at length it happened that 
the man of God heard an ill report concerning tho 
priest, and accordingly the next time he came he shut 
the door against him and sent him away ; but he had 
no sooner dismissed him than he heard a voice saying : 
u Men have taken away the judgment that belongs to 
me, and have arrogated it to themselves" After which 
he was rapt in a kind of ecstasy or trance, in which he 
saw a golden well full of most clear and excellent 
water, with a chain and bucket of the same precious 
metal, and a leper drawing up some of this water, and 
pouring it out of the golden bucket into a clean vessel. 
Now he seemed extremely desirous to drink of it, and 
was only prevented by the repugnance he felt at see 
ing it drawn up by the leper. Whereupon he thought 
be heard a voice which said to him : " Why dostthou 
not drink ? What harm has he done who has drawn 
t.he water, since he has done no more than filled the 
bucket, and then poured it out into the vessel ? " Th? 


The hermit upon this returned to himself, and having 
reflected on the vision, called back the priest, and 
desired him to celebrate and consecrate for him as 

48. Some of the brethren went one day to consult 
St. Antony whether they ought to pay any regard to 
their dreams when they found them followed by the 
event, or to despise them as illusions of the devil ? 
Now having had an ass with them who died by the 
way, as soon as they came to the Saint he was before 
hand with them, and asked them how their ass hap 
pened to die ? How, father, said they, how did you 
know of the death of the ass? The devils, said he, 
showed it me in a dream. Upon this they told him 
the occasion of their coming, for that they had also 
often dreams which came to pass, and for fear of 
being deluded they desired his opinion concerning 
these matters. The Saint gave them full satisfac 
tion on this head, assuring them by the example of 
the ass, that dreams being only tricks of the enemy 
to fill the mind with superstition, are by no means to 
be regarded. 

49. The holy abbot Agatho being asked whether 
the mortification of the flesh by corporal labors and 
austerities, or the keeping a guard upon the inward 
man was of greater importance in \ spiritual life, h* 
answered : that man was like a tree, of which corporal 
labors and austerities were the leaves, but the regu- 


ianty jf the interior was the fruit: wherefore, as cm? 
principal care must be about the fruit : because it is 
written, that every tree, which doth not bring forth 
f/ood fruit, shall be cut up, and shall be cast into the 
Are, our chief solicitude must be about the interior, 
yet we must not neglect the leaves of corporal exer 
cises, since they are both an ornament and a covering 
to protect the fruit. 

50. The same holy Abbot used to say, that a man 
who does not restrain the passion of anger, though 
he were even to raise the dead to life, cannot be pleas 
ing to God. 

51. The holy abbot Pemen used to say, "Evil can 
not be cast out by evil ; wherefore if any one doth 
evil to you do you good to him, that you may over 
come his evil by your good." He was also accustom 
ed to say : " He that is quarrelsome, or apt to mur 
mur and complain, is no monk ; he that renders 
evil for evil is no monk ; he that is passionate is no 

52. The same Saint said, self-will stands as a wall 
of brass between man and God ; wherefore he that 
renounces his own will, may say with the Psalmist, Ps. 
xvii. 30. Through my God I shall go over the wall, 
and may arrive at the justice of God ; concerning 
which it is written in the folio-wing verse, as for my 
God his way is undejiled. 

53. Abbot Abrahr n, who had been a disciple ol 


St. Agatho, having asked St. Pemen, " How it came 
to pass that the devils were always assaulting him ? 
The devils, replied the Saint, don t oppose those who 
do their own wills ; for our own wills are devils with 
respect to us, because they are always tempting us to 
follow them. But it is such, as like Moses and other 
saints, have got the better of their own wills that the 
devils impugn." 

54. A certain brother complained to St. Pambo, 
that the wicked spirits would not suffer him to do 
good to his neighbors. Don t say so, said the Saint 
lest you charge our Lord with not being true to his 
word, for he has told us, Luke x. 19. Behold I have 
given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, 
and upon all the power of the enemy. Tis then 
your want of a good will, and not the wicked spirits 
which you ought to accuse on this occasion, for why 
don t you resist them, and tread them under your 

55. One having asked abbot Sisois, what can be 
the meaning, father, that these passions will not de 
part from me 1 The abbot answered, because by 
your irregular affections you keep within you what be 
longs to them ; but if you give up all that is theirs, 
Dy mortifying your disorderly affections, they shall 
have no control over you, but shall depart feom you. 

56. An ancient father being asked, which was that 
straight and narrow way that leads to life, as is spoken 


of Malt, vii ? answered, to do violence to our owa 
thoughts and inclinations, and to sacrifice our own 
will to the will of God, and that such as do this may 
say with the apostles, Matt. xix. behold we have left 
all things, and have followed thee. 

57. One of the brothers said to the abbot Sisois: 
" I desire to keep a guard upon my heart ; " he repli 
ed, " how can you guard your heart, and preserve it 
from dangers, if you suffer the gate of the tongue to 
be always open f " The same holy abbot used to say : 
u That the great business of our pilgrimage is to keep 
a guard upon our mouths." 

58. Abbot Allois said : " Except a religious man 
think in his heart that there is no one in the world but 
God and himself, he will never enjoy true rest." 

59. One of the ancients said : " As no one presumes 
to offer violence to a person whilst he is at the side of 
the emperor, so neither can Satan do any hurt to a 
soul whilst it sticks close to God ; for it is written : 
Approach to God, and he ivill approach to you, 
James iv. 8. But because the poor soul is frequently 
dissipated and forgets her God, the enemy has power 
to drag her away into shameful passions." 

60. One of the brothers told an ancient religious, 
that he was not sensible of any conflict or war in his 
80U 1. " Oh," said the father, " it is because your soul 
is like an open place, where every one comes in and 
goes out at his pleasure without meeting with any re- 


sistance on your part, or your ever taking any notice 
of them ; but if you kept the door shut, by guarding 
against evil thoughts, you would quickly become sen 
sible of the war they would wage against you." 

61. Another ancient father said, that Satan had 
three precursors who usually prepared the way for 
him, and helped to introduce sin into the soul, viz. 
forgetfulness of God, negligence, and concupiscence. 

62. When the patriarch Theophilus visited the re 
ligious of mount Nitria, he asked the superior what 
was the most important thing he had found out in 
that way of life ? The father answered : to accuse 
and reprehend myself without ceasing. The prelate 
replied, there can be no way more safe. 

63. Abbot Mathos said, the nearer a man draws to 
wards God, the more he perceives himself to be a sin 
ner ; thus when the prophet Isaias saw the Lord, 
chap. vi. he immediately exclaimed, Wo is me, be 
cause lam a man of unclean lips and I have seen with 
my eyes, the King, the Lord of Hosts. 

64. St. Arsenius related as of another, though it 
was thought himself was the person, that whilst one 
of the ancient religious was sitting alone in his cell he 
was called out by a voice that said to him : " Come, 
arid I will show thee the works of men." The person 
that called him out, brought him first to a place where 
he saw a negro cutting wood, and making a large bun 
dle, which he tried to carry, but found t too heavy ; 


whereupon instead of lessening the bundle he went to 
cut more wood, and still continued to add to his bur 
den, without ottering to take anything away from a 
load which even at the first was more than he could 
carry. Having gone a little further, he perceived a 
man standing by a lake drawing water and pouring it 
into a vessel full of holes, through which the water ran 
again into the lake. Afterwards he was brought to 
another place where he saw a building like a temple, 
with two men on horseback marching abreast, and 
carrying a long pole together on their shoulders, with 
which they endeavored to go into the temple, but as 
they would not be put out of their way, nor stop, nor 
turn the pole, so that one might pass in before the 
other, they were both of them kept out, because the 
length of the pole, and the manner they carried it, 
would not suffer them to enter within the gate of the 
temple. The person that showed him these things 
told him, that these two men resembled such as pre 
tend to carry the yoke of religion without renouncing 
their pride ; and if they are not reclaimed, so as to 
walk humbly in the way of Christ, they shall assured 
ly be excluded from God s eternal temple. He also 
told him, that the man whom they saw cutting the 
wood, represented worldlings loaded with sins, who in-, 
stead of doing penance, or turning from their evil 
ways, were, by adding sin to sin, continually increas 
ing thsir burden ; and that the man who poured th 


water ;nto the vessel full of holes, resembled such a* 
do many good works, but lose the fruit of them by 
mingling with them many that are evil. Wherefore 
every one ought to be watchful with regard to the 
urity and perfection of his works, that he may not 
be found hereafter to have labored in vain. 

05. St. Arsenius also informs us, that there was in 
the wilderness a certain old man, who was wonderful 
in his actions, but simple in faith, so that being igno 
rant, he had an erroneous opinion with respect to the 
holy eucharist, saying, that the bread which we receive 
is not really the body of Christ, but only the figure of 
his body. Two of the ancient fathers, on hearing this, 
went to beg of him to lay aside so erroneous an opin 
ion, and to believe with them and the universal church, 
that the eucharistic bread was indeed the body of 
Christ, and the chalice his blood, according to the 
truth, and not according to figure ; because Christ 
himself had assured us, saying, this is my body, &c. 
But as the old man did not appear satisfied with what 
they said on this subject, it was agreed upon between 
them, that they should all three earnestly pray to God 
during the week with relation to the mystery, that the 
truth might be made manifest to him. On the fol- 
/owing Sunday, having placed themselves together iu 
the church, at the time of celebrating the sacred mys 
teries, there appeared to them a little child as it were 
: ying upon the alta-, and when the priest was going 


to divide the sacramental bread, they saw an ange. 
with a knife dividing the body of the child, and re 
ceiving his blood in the chalice ; and when they went 
up to communion, whilst the other two received the 
blessed sacrament in its usual form, the particle that 
was given the old man appeared to be bloody flesh, at 
which he was frightened, and exclaimed : " / believe, 
Lord, that the consecrated bread is thy body, and 
the chalice thy blood ;" immediately what he was go 
ing to receive returned to the shape of bread accord 
ing to the mystery. Whereupon they all returned 
thanks, and blessed God for his wonderful goodness, 
in not suffering his servant to lose, by incredulity, the 
fruit of so many years labor. 

Out of the Book of the Virtues and Miracles of the Reli 
gious of their own times, published under the Title of 
" The Spiritual Meadow," by that holy man John Mos- 
chus, surnamed Eviratus, and his intimate friend and 
individual companion, St. Sophrovius. 

66. AN ancient religious, who dwelt in the monas- 
terv of the towers of Palestine, was so eminent in thai 
virtu> , that nil the monks were desirous of choosing 
lum fur their abbot; but the old man begged to Iw 


excused, saying : " Pardon me, reverend fathers, and 
suffer me to bewail my sins, I am not worthy to be 
intrusted with the care of souls ; that is an office only 
fit for such men as an Antony, Pachomius, or Theo 
dore, and not for such a wretch as I am." But as the 
brethren still importuned him to accept of the supe 
riority, and would hear of no excuse, he at length told 
them : "Let me pray for three days, that I may know 
the will of God ; and whatever he ordains that will I 
do." This he said on the Friday, and the Sunday 
morning following our Lord took him to himself. 

67. Another religious man of the same monastery, 
an eminent servant of God, having died in the hospi 
tal of Jericho, when the brethren took his body from 
thence, and carried it to be buried in his own monas 
tery, they perceived a bright star over his head, which 
accompanied them the whole way, and continued to 
be visible till the body was interred. 

68. Another monk of the same monastery, whose 
name was Myrogones, who, by the austerity of his life, 
had fallen into a dropsy, when the brethren came to 
visit and comfort him under his sufferings, used to say 
to them : " Good fathers, pray for me, that the in 
ward man may not fall into a dropsy ; for as to this 
exterior infirmity, I make it my prayer to God that it 
may continue with me." The Patriarch of Jerusalem, 
Eustochius, hearing of this holy man, desired to be 
at the charges of furnishing him with all necessaries. 


but the servant of God declined accepting his charita 
ble offer, and only begged that he would pray for him, 
that he might be delivered from the everlasting suffer 
ings of the world to come. 

09. A brother having desired the abbot Olympius, 
priest of the monastery of St. Gerasimus, to give him 
a word of instruction : " Fly," said he, " the conversa 
tion of heretics ; put a restraint upon thy tongue, and 
thy sensual appetite, and wheresoever thou art, say 
always to thyself I am a stranger and a pilgrim," 

70. One of the fathers of the laura of Cupatha re 
lated, as what he had heard from the person himself 
to whom it happened, that when there was a war in 
Africa, between the Romans and Moors, and the lat 
ter, in a certain engagement, had defeated the former, 
and slain many of them, one of the Roman soldiers in 
the flight, being closely pursued by a barbarian, whose 
spear almost touched his back, prayed earnestly to our 
Lord to deliver him, as he had delivered St. Thecla 
out of the hands of her e^mies, and promised, if he 
escaped with his life, he v_...d presently retire into the 
desert, and dedicate himself wholly to the love and 
services of God ; when behold, looking back, he could 
neither see the barbarian that pursued him, nor any 
other enemy. Wherefore, to fulfill his promise, he 
presently repaired to the laura of Cupatha, and had 
already passed five and thirty years alone ir a neigh 
boring cave, in devotion and penance. 


71. When John and Sophronius came to the mon 
astery called Philoxene, near the town of Dade in 
Cyprus, they found there a monk, a native of Melitine, 
named Isidore, who passed his whole time in weeping 
and mourninor. The brethren often desired that he 


would desist from his lamentations, and allow himself 
some rest and ease ; but he would not hear of it, al- 
ledging that he was the most enormous sinner that 
ever had been since the creation. His history, which 
we had from his own mouth, was briefly to the follow 
ing effect. Whilst he lived a married man in the 
world, both himself and his wife were followers of the 
heresy of Severus the Eutychian ; but one day his 
wife visiting a catholic woman, her neighbor, went with 
her to receive the catholic communion. The husband 
being informed thereof, made what haste he could in 
pursuit of her, to prevent her so doing ; but when he 
arrived he found she had just communicated. Upon 
which, in a great rage, he seized her by the throat, 
and obliged her to cast up the consecrated species, 
which he let fall into the dirt ; when presently he per 
ceived the sacred particle which he had abused, shining 
with brilliant rays of light. Two days after he saw a 
deformed black fellow, who said to him : " You and I 
are condemned to suffer the same punishment to 
gether ; " and having asked him who he was, he an 
swered : " I am the wretch who struck the Lord Jesus, 
the Maker of all things on his cheek at the time of his 


passion." For this reason, said Isidore, I can neve* 
leave off weeping. And now you have heard ray his 
tory, I hope you will be pleased to pray for me. 

72. Two ancient religious, travelling- from JGga, in 
Oilicia, to Tarsus, were obliged, by the heat of the day, 
to go into an inn, where they found three young men 
with a harlot in their company. The two religious 
went and sat down by themselves ; and when one ol 
them took out the holy gospel, and began to read, the 
woman left her company, and came and sat down by 
his side to hear him. The servant of God, in order 
to drive her away, asked her how she could be so im 
pudent as to come and sit by them ? It is true, replied 
she, 1 am a wretched sinner ; but as our God and Sa 
viour Jesus Christ did not prevent a sinful woman 
from coming to him, why should you cast me off? 
The woman that came to our Saviour, rejoined the 
holy father, renounced her wicked way of life, and was 
no longer a harlot. And I, said she, trust in Jesus 
Christ, that from this very instant, by his dr ine grace, 
I shall quit this sinful .way, and never more be guilty 
of the like sins. Firm in her resolution, she instantly 
quitted the world with all she possessed, and went to 
the nunnery near ^Ega, to which the two old men re 
commended her ; " where," says my author, " I saw 
her, being now an old woman of great prudence, and 
learnt these things from her own mouth." Her name 
was Marv. 


73. A certain comedian of Tarsus in Cilicia, named 
Babylas, who led a very wicked life and kept two con 
cubines, one called Cometa, and the other Nicosa, one 
day hearing in the church those words of the gospel, 
do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, 
(Matth. iii.) was so suddenly touched with an extra 
ordinary compunction for his sins, that he resolved 
upon the spot to quit the world entirely, and to dedi 
cate the remainder of his days to devotion and pen 
ance. This resolution, as soon as he returned home, 
he imparted to the two women, telling them that they 
might, if they pleased, divide his whole substance be 
tween them ; but as for his part he was resolved to 
provide for the salvation of his soul, by renouncing the 
world from that very instant, and entering into reli 
gion. Both being greatly moved by his words, told 
him with one voice, and an abundance of tears, that 
as they had been partners with him in his sinful ways, 
and had borne him company whilst he was walking in 
the broad road to perdition, so they were also deter 
mined to accompany him in his conversion to God, 
and to enter with him. upon the narrow way of eternal 
life ; for why should you, said they, choose the better 
part for yourself, and leave us in the lurch ? Where 
fore Babylas went, and shut himself up in one of the 
towers belonging to the walls of the city ; and the 
two women, after selling all their substance, and giving 
the price to the ; poor, made themselves also a cell in 



the neighborhood, where they dedicated themselves tc 
a recluse and penitential life. This man, says our 
author, I myself have seen, and was very much edified 
by his conversation ; for. he was exceedingly humble, 
mild, and charitable. 

74. One of the fathers related a remarkable anec 
dote to us concerning St. Ephrem, the patriarch Oi 
Antioch : that being very zealous and fervent in 
faith, he attempted the conversion of a famous monk 
who lived on a pillar in the neighborhood of Hierapo- 
!is, who had been tampered with by the Eutychian 
heretics, and seduced into their errors. This Stylite 
being obstinate against the remonstrances of the holy 
patriarch, to show how confident he was of the truth 
of his religion, made a proposal that a great fire should 
be kindled into which he and the patriarch should go 
together, and that they should abide by the faith of 
him who should come out of the flames without hurt. 
St. Ephrem told him, that although he had proposed 
a thing that far exceeded the strength of such a poor 
sinner as he acknowledged himself to be, however, 
that confiding in the mercies of his Saviour, and hop 
ing by this means to bring about the salvation of a 
soul in error, he would agree to the proposal, and im 
mediately he ordered a great quantity of wood to be 
piled up, which he himself set on fire, and then lie 
desired the monk to coi^e down from his pillar, that 
they might go hand in hand into the flames. Bat 


-be heretic, who thought to have frightened the patri 
arch with his proposal, being dismayed at his courage 
and resolution, would not come down. The Saint then 
going up. to the fire, and taking off his stole, prayed 
to our Lord Jesus Christ, who was pleased to be incar 
nate for the love of us, to make manifest on this occa 
sion his divine truth; and when he had ended his 
prayer, he cast his stole into the midst of the flames, 
where it remained for the space of three hours, till all 
the wood was consumed, and then it was taken out 
whole and entire, without having been so much as 
singed by the fire. The Sty lite, astonished at so evi 
dent a miracle, gave glory to God, and was converted 
upon the spot to the Catholic Church, and was admit 
ted by St. Ephrem to receive the holy communion 
from his own hands. 

75. St. Ephrem, who, before he was patriarch, 
was count or governor of all the eastern district of 
which Antioch was the capital, was very illustrious for 
his alrns-deeds and works of mercy. In his time, the 
city of Antioch was destroyed by an earthquake, which 
calamity, amongst many other occasions of exercising 
his charity, furnished him with that of employing a 
number of workmen and laborers in repairing the pub 
lic buildings of that city. Now one of the fathers re 
lated to us, says our author, that on this occasion a 
certain bishop privately withdrawing himself from hia 
see, and putting on a poor laborer s frock, came to An- 


lioch, and tlere hired himself to serve the masons, 
After some time the governor, in a vision ty night, 
saw this laborer lying asleep, and over his head a pil 
lar of fire, which reached even up to the firmament. 
He was the more astonished at the sight, because he 
perceived nothing in the whole garb, or person of the 
man, but what appeared mean and contemptible; 
however, as he continued for many nights to see the 
same thing, he sent for the laborer, and asked him 
who or what he was ? He answered he was a poor 
man, who endeavored to gain his little livelihood by 
his work. The count, not satisfied with this answer, 
told him plainly he should not depart from him till ho 
had discovered the whole truth, and continued to con 
jure him in so pressing a manner to give him a more 
particular account of himself, that at length, after re 
quiring a solemn promise of secrecy, at least till he 
should be dead, he told him : "I am a bishop, who 
have for God s sake resigned rny bishopric, and am 
come hither as to a strange place, where no one might 
know me ; to mortify my flesh, employ myself in la 
bor, and by the work of my hands to earn myself a 
little bread. Ask not my name, for that I must and 
will conceal ; but take care to multiply thy alms-deeds 
and good works as much as possible, for before it be 
long God will promote thee to the apostolic see of this 
city, to feed the flock which Christ our true God has 
purchased with his own. blood. Therefore, as I said, 


De diligent in all the works of mercy, and always stand 
up zealously, and contend earnestly for the orthodox 
faith; for with such sacrifices as these God is best 
pleased." St. Ephrem hearing all this, glorified our 
Lord, who has many hidden servants in the world, 
known to himself alone. 

76. The abbot Stephen related to us, that a certain 
monk, named Gyriacus, of the monastery of our holy 
father St. Sabas, being one day visited by his worldly 
friends, when they knocked at the door of his cell, he 
praved to God that he might not be seen by them ; 
then opening the door, he went out without their per 
ceiving him, and remained abroad in the desert till he 
understood they were gone away. 

77. The same abbot Stephen related to us the fol 
lowing extraordinary anecdote concerning father Ju 
lian the Stylite, who was illustrious for many miracles : 
the servant of God understanding that there was in 
his neighborhood a lion that did much mischief, called 
one t day to his disciple Pancratius, and bid him go two 
miles to the south, and there, said he, thou shalt find 
the lion, to whom thou shalt say: "Julian, the poor 
servant of Jesus Christ, commands thee, in the name 
of the same Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who gives 
life to all things, to depart from this country." Pan- 
ciatius having found out the lion, and spoken to it as 
the saint had ordered, the beast immediately obeyed, 
and was seen nc more n that province. 


78. Father Peter, a priest of the same monastery 
of St. Sabas, told us of another hoiy man, named 
Thaleleus, of the province of Cicilia, who had spent 
three score years in religion, in such perpetual com 
punction and devotion as to never cease from weeping 
and saying : " this present time is allowed us by divine 
mercy for repentance and penance, and what a ter 
rible account shall we have to give if we do not make 
good use of it!" 

79. Three ancient religious men came one day tc 
the cell of the holy abbot Stephen, priest, of the mon 
astery of the ^Eliotse, to be edified by his conversation ; 
but he keeping silence whilst they conversed on differ 
ent subjects of piety, Father, said they, we came to 
you, in hopes of learning something, why don t you 
say something to us ? " I beg your pardon," said he, 
" I really did not take notice of what you were speak 
ing ; for, to tell you the truth, I have nothing before 
my eyes, night or day, but our Lord Jesus Christ cru 
cified." With this answer they departed not a little 

80. Abbot John, surnamed Molybiw, ie!ated to us 
concerning the same holy priest Steph^r, t^at being in 
bis last illness obliged by his physical/ to eat meat, 
a brother of his, A secular, but a V>T\ virtuous man, 
was shocked, and exceedingly grVkv,d, that ht who 
had lived so many years in sucL extreme abstinence 
and mortifoation, should, at the i <.1 of his life, fall to 


the eating of flesh meat. In the midst of these 
thoughts he fell into an ecstasy, and saw in spirit one 
standing by reprehending him for being scandalized 
without cause at what his brother did through neces 
sity, and by obedience. "But, (said he) if you desiro 
to know the merit and glory of your brother, turn and 
see him." Upon which, turning about, he saw his 
brother fastened to the cross with our Lord : " Be 
hold," said the person that appeared to him, "the 
happy state of your brother, and learn to glorify hirn 
who glorifies, in this manner, those that love him in 

81. Abbot Theodosius related of himself, that in his 
younger days, before he embraced a solitary life, he 
saw one day in an ecstasy, a person shining brighter 
than the sun, who took him by the hand, and said : 
" Come along with me ; for thou must wrestle and 
fight for a crown." Whereupon he led him into a 
theatre that appeared immensely wide, and full of peo 
ple ; one part of whom were clothed in white, the other 
in black, and placed him in the centre. And here he 
saw a filthy negro of a gigantic size and strength, 
standing before him, with whom he was told he was 
to wrestle. He strove to excuse himself, alledging 
that no strength upon earth could be able to stand 
against such a monster ; but the person that brought 
hirn thither said, you must wrestle with him. " Ad- 
ranee then courageously and attack him, and I will 


stand by and assist thee, and give thee the crown of 
victory." Upon this encouragement Theodosius seem 
ed to himself to have entered the lists, and with the 
help of his friend to have overthrown his adversary, 
and received the crown ; to the great joy of those that 
were clothed in white, who gave praise and glory to 
him who had given his servant the victory, whilst the 
others in black were all confounded, and put to flight. 
The same abbot Theodosius, as we learnt from his dis 
ciple, the abbot Cyriacus, spent thirty-five years in soli 
tude, eating but once in two days, and observing a 
perpetual silence. Of this, says John Moschus, I was 
for some time an eye-witness, having lived during ten 
years with him in the monastery. 

82. When Sophronius and I, said John Moschwv, 
were at Alexandria, we went to visit abbot Palladius, 
a true servant of God, superior of the monastery in 
Lithosomenon, to learn of him some lessons of edifi 
cation. "My children," said he, "our time here is 
very short ; let us then fight during this short time ; 
let us labor in earnest for the immortal goods of a 
happy eternity. Behold the martyrs ; look upon 
those champions of heaven, and see how bravely they 
have fought and conquered ; what cruel torments they 
have sustained; with whnt ardor of faith they have 
gone through all the sufferings of the present life, and 
thereby purchased an eternal and immense weight of 
g.ory, To labor, therefore, to suffer, and to overcome, 


frith the help of our Lord, the tribulations of this life, 
is the way to prove ourselves true lovers of God. In 
the mean time he himself will remain with us; he 
will fight and conquer in and for us ; he will alleviate 
by his divine grace all our labors and sufferings. Pa 
tience and Penitence must then be our exercises during 
the slrcni time that is allowed us here, that so we may 
arrive at the honor and dignity of being the eternal 
temples of God." He added, that we should always 
set before our eyes him who had not, during his mor 
tal life, whereon to lay his head : and that we should 
remember that the suffering of tribulation, according 
to St. Paul, Rom. v. worketh patience, and patience 
trial, and trial hope, and hope confoundeth not, <fec. ; 
so that this is indeed the true way to dispose our souls 
for the kingdom of heaven. Wherefore, my children, 
said he, let us love not the world, nor those things 
which are in the world, 1 John ii. but let us keep a 
constant guard upon our thoughts, by recollection 
of spirit, which is the medicine of salvation. 

83. We asked this holy man what had been the 
first occasion of his call to this monastic life ? Upon 
which he related to us the following history : " There 
was," said he, " in my country (Thessalonica in Mace 
donia) an ancient religious man, named David, a na 
tive of Mesopotamia, who lived during the space of 
fourscore years shut up in a little cell by himself, at 
the distance of about three furlongs without the walla 


(A the city, in great sanctity and abstinence. Now it 
happened, on account of the inroads of the barbarians, 
that soldiers were placed round the walls of the city 
to guard it at night from the attack of the enemy. 
These guards observed one night flames of fire issuing 
forth from the windows of the cell of the servant 01 
God, from whence they concluded that the barbarians 
had been there, and had set fire to his cell ; but to 
their great astonishment, when they went out the next 
morning to see what mischief had been done, they 
found the old man safe and sound, and no mark of 
fire in his cell. The following night they saw the 
same fire again, which from that time continued to be 
seen every, night for a long time after, even till the 
death of the holy anchoret ; and many of the citizens 
often passed the night upon the wall on purpose to see 
it. This I myself saw, not once, or twice, but many 
times ; upon which I said to myself, if God gives so 
much glory to his servants in this world, how much, 
thinkest thou, has he reserved for them in the world 
to come ; where the just shall shine like the sun in 
the kingdom of their Father. This was the first oc 
casion of my resolving upon taking the monastic habit, 
and entering upon a religious course of life." 

84. The same holy abbot told us of a soldier iu 
Alexandria, named John, who constantly observed the 
following rule and order of life. Every day he came 
earlv in the morning to the monastery, and sitting 


down alone, clothed in hair-cloth, at the steps of the 
chapel of Saint Peter, employed himself in making 
baskets in silence and recollection, till the ninth hour 
of the day. In the mean time Le used no other vocal 
prayer but this : " From my secret sins cleanse me, 

Lord, that when I pray I may not be confounded." 
This he repeated seven times in the day, and after 
each time continued recollected and silent for a whole 
hour. At the ninth hour he put off his hair cloth, 
and put on his military habit, and went to his station 
amongst the soldiers. With this man, said the father, 

1 lived for eight years, and was much edified with his 
silence and his whole manner of life. 

85. The same holy man told us one day, that the 
source of all heresies and schisms in the church was, 
loving God too little, and ourselves too much. 

86. He also related to us the history of a certain 
merchant of Alexandria, a very religious, charitable, 
and hospitable man, who had a wife that was also a 
very pious, humble Christian, and a little daughter six 
years old. This man being called away by his affairs 
to Constantinople, was asked by his wife, at parting, 
to whose care and protection he would recommend 
her and her child during his absence ? He answered, 
T recommend you to our blessed Lady, the mother of 
God. Having left behind with them only one servant 
man, a slave, the wretch, by the instigation of the devil, 
conceived the design of murdering his mistress and 


her little daughter, and after rifling the house, to de 
camp with the spoils. To put his diabolical plan in 
execution, taking the kitchen knife with him, he at 
tempted to go into the parlor where his mistress, with 
her little girl, was sitting at her work ; but no sooner 
had he come to the door than he was struck blind, 
and withheld in such manner that he could neither go 
forward nor backward. At length he called to his 
mistress to come 1 out to him, whilst she, ignorant of 
his case, replied, that if he wanted any thing he might 
come in ; and although he called aloud again and 
again, still she would not come, until at length, in a 
fit of rage and despair, he stabbed himself. His mis 
tress hearing him fall, and seeing what he had done, 
called in the neighbors, with whom came in also some 
of the officers of justice, and finding him not quite 
dead, they learnt from his own mouth the particulars 
here mentioned, and glorified our Lord, who had in so 
miraculous a manner preserved the life both of the 
mother and the child, who were thus recommended 
to the care of his Virgin Mother. 

SV. The same Palladius related also to us another 
remarkable history, which he learnt from a master of 
a ship, to the truth whereof himself was a witness. A 
widow, named Mary, had made away with two of her 
own children, in order to recommend herself to a man 
with whom she was in love, but who refused to marry 
her on account of her children. But when she Lad 


secretly perpetrated this crime, and had signified to 
the man that her children were now removed out of 
the way, he conceived so great a horror for her, that 
he declared, with a solemn oath, he would never 
marry her on any account whatsoever. Being thus 
disappointed, and apprehending lest her guilt being 
divulged, she should fall into the hands of justice, and 
be put to death, to withdraw herself as far as possible 
from the danger, she went on board the vessel belong 
ing to the captain above mentioned. But although 
she thus fled from the justice of man, she could not 
escape the justice of God ; for when they had set sail, 
and were advanced into the deep, the ship all on a 
sudden stood still, so that for many days they could 
neither go forward nor backward, though they saw 
other ships, not far distant from them, sailing various 
courses, and going on with prosperous gales. All 
were in the utmost consternation at seeing themselves 
stand thus immovable in the midst of the sea, (for 
there were many passengers on board), but particular 
ly the master of the ship, whose all was at stake, being 
in the greatest perplexity of mind, with the utmost 
fervor begged that God would send them a deliver 
ance. At length in his prayer he heard a voice, say 
ing : " Put Mary out of the vessel, and you shall have 
ft good voyage." As he did not comprehend what 
the meaning of this could be, nor knew who this Mary 
was, and therefore vas dubious what was to be done 



the voice said to him again : " Put Mary, I say, out 
of your ship, and all shall go well with you." Upon 
this he called out Mary, Mary ; and upon her an 
swering to her name, he desired to speak to her apart, 
and told *ier he was afraid, that on account of his sins, 
they were all going to perish. no, Sir, said she, 
fetching a deep sigh, it is rather on account of my 
sins ; for there is no crime of which I have not been 
guilty, and immediately told him the history of the 
murder of the children. He then proposed to her, as 
it were in order to know whether it was for his own, 
or for her sins, that the ship was stopped in her 
course, that the boat should be let down, and that he 
should first descend into the boat to see whether the 
ship would then advance, and if not, then he should 
return into the ship, and she should go down into the 
boat. The captain went down first, according to his 
proposal, into the boat, but still the ship and boat 
remained immovable ; but no sooner had he come 
back, and she gone down out of the ship, than the 
boat immediately turning round five times, went down 
with her to the bottom and was never seen more. 
Immediately the ship sprang forward, and continued 
to advance with such unusual speed, as to sail in three 
days and a half a voyage which otherwise must have 
cost them fifteen days. 

88. As another instance of the justice of God often 
overtaking the wicked even on this side of eternity, 


our author relates how he and Sophronius, sheltering 
themselves one day at noon from the violence of the 
heat of the sun, under the shade of a place called Te- 
trapylon, where the Alexand *ians say the bones of the 
prophet Jeremias were deposited, they found there 
three blind men sitting, and heard them relating to 
each other the manner how they became blind. The 
first said, that being a sailor, he was struck blind by 
lightning at sea ; the second, that he had lost his eyes 
by the fire, working in a glass-house ; but the third 
made a sincere confession, that being an idle young 
fellow, and averse to labor, he begun to take to pilfer 
ing ; and that seeing one day a man carried to be 
buried in rich clothes, and deposited in a monument 
behind St John s church, he hadwatched his oppor 
tunity, and going into the monument, stripped the 
corpse of the clothes ; but that when he was about to 
take away the linen which was next to the body, the 
corpse, by some supernatural power, sat up, and fixing 
its nails in his eyes, plucked them out : " And thus," 
concluded he, " wretched I, in great anguish and des 
olation, quitting all that I had taken, fled out of the 
monument; and this is the true history of my blind 
ness." This account which these two servants of God 
heaid from the mouth of the blind man himself, they 
committed to writing, as a warning to sinners not to 
think, even in their most private sins, to escape tha 
notice of the justice of God. 


89. No less remarkable in this kind is the history 
which the same holy men learnt from abbot John, su 
perior of a monastery near Antioch, with relat on to a 
young man who had presumed to strip the dead corpse 
of a maiden gentlewoman. When he was going out 
of the monument laden with the spoil, she held him 
fast, and would not suffer him to stir, till he had re 
stored all he had taken. Hereupon he made a solemn 
promise to renounce his wicked course of life, and to 
enter forthwith into religion ; and being as good as his 
vord, he went immediately to abbot John, and with 
the greatest marks of compunction besought him, for 
the love of God, to receive him into his monastery. 
When the abbot inquired into the cause of that exces 
sive grief and anguish wherein he saw him, he related 
to him the whole matter of fact as above. The abbot 
after having comforted him, received him into the 
monastic habit, and appointed a cavern in the moun 
tain for his cell, where, at the very time my authors 
heard from him this history, which happened but a 
little while before, the young man was actually doino- 
penance for his sins, and serving our Lord with great 
frrvor and piety. 

90. Sophronius and John Moschus having one day 
visited a holy anchoret, who had his cell at the dis 
tance of eighteen miles from Alexandria, they begged 
of him to give them some lessons for their instruction 
and edification. "My children," said he, "you do 


well m renouncing the world, in order to secure youi 
salvaHon. Go then and remain in your cells; ba 
sober and watchful ; keep yourselves quiet; be silent 
and pray without ceasing, and I trust in God that he 
will there enlighten your souls, and instruct you in the 
science of the Saints." He said again, " My children, 
if you desire to be safe, flee from the company of men, 
and be not of the number of those that run gadding 
about from house to house, or from place to place, for 
the sake of worldly interest or empty glory, and thus 
fill their souls with nothing but vanity. Let us flee, 
my children, let us flee, for the time is near at hand." 
Again he said ; " Alas, alas ! how bitterly shall we 
repent, our not being sincere penitents now? Our 
misery is so great, that when we are praised we are 
puffed up, and when we are dispraised we are quite 
dejected: the former suggests to us poor wretches, 
pride and vain glory ; the latter depresses us with sad 
ness and anguish. Now there can no good be found 
where either sadness or vain glory resides." He said 
again, " the devils make it their business, when they 
have drawn a soul into sin, to strive to cast her head 
long into dejection and despair, that so they may com 
plete her ruin. They are always plotting against the 
poor soul, and saying, when shall she die, and her 
name perish ? but let the soul that is sober reply with 
confidence in God, / shall not die, but live, and de 
clare the works of the Lord. And if they should say 


ro her again, Get thee away from hence to the moun 
tain like a sparrow, let her reply, behold my God and 
my Saviour, he is my protector, I will not go hence" 
He also said : " keep a guard at the gate of your 
hearts, and let no stranger in, but diligently inquire, 
Art thou one of ours, or of our adversaries!" 
Jos. v. 

01. We went also to the abbot John of Petra, and 
desired a word of instruction from him. This good 
father recommended continual mortification and pov 
erty of spirit to us, in such a manner as to love to be 
stript of all earthly things ; and to this purpose he re 
lated to us that when he was a young man, and abode 
in the desert of Scete, one of the religious of that 
place being ill, had occasion for a small quantity of 
vinegar, but that so great was their poverty and ab 
stinence, that a single drop could not be found in all 
the four monasteries, although they contained at that 
time no less than three thousand five hundred fathers. 

92. John the Cicilian, abbot of Raithu, used to in 
culcate the following lessons to his brethren : " My 
children, as we have fled from the world, by entering 
into religion, let us also flee from the flesh, and all its 
passions and concupiscences. Let us walk in the step 
of our fathers and holy founders who first inhabited 
this place, and led such strict and mortified life with 
BO much silence and recollection. O, my children, let 
as not be so unhappy as to defile this place by our sins, 


tfhich our fathers have taken so much pains to cleanse 
and purify from the evil spirits and their works of 
darkness." He also told them for their encourage 
ment, that when he came thither first he found aged 
monks who had spent seventy years in that place, 
living the whole time upon nothing but herbs and 
dates; and that for his own part he had now been 
seventy-six years there, and had gone through many 
a conflict, and a great variety of molestations and 
temptations from the spirit of darkness. This was the 
same abbot of Raithu to whom Saint John Climacu? 
dedicated his Ladder of Paradise. 

93. We went also to visit abbot John the Persian, 
who recounted to us the following anecdote concern 
ing Gregory the great, the most blessed bishop of 
Rome. " When I went," said he, " to Rome, to ven 
erate the sepulchres of the holy apostles Peter and 
Paul, and was one day standing in the midst of the 
city, they told me that the Pope was about to pass 
that way. Upon which I thought I would stop and 
cast myself at his feet, to show reverence to him and 
crave his blessing ; but when he came near and saw 
me ready io pay him that veneration, I call God to 
witness that he first prostrated himself upon the 
ground before me, and would not rise again till he 
saw me get up : then saluting me with a wonderful 
humility, he put three pieces of money into my hand, 
and gave orders to his people that I should be supplied 


with every necessary, which gave me occasion to glo 
rify God for the exceeding great humility, mercy, and 
unbounded charity, which he had bestowed upon this 
his servant." 

94. Abb)t Andrew, superior of a monastery near 
Alexandria, related to us, that whilst in his youth he 
was going from Alexandria into Palestine, with nine 
others in his company, one of the number, who was a 
Jew, named Theodore, was taken ill with a violent fe 
ver in the desert through which they were obliged to 
pass. The rest of the company pitying his case, af 
forded him what comfort they could, and led him for 
ward in hopes of being able to reach some town or 
village where he might meet with refreshment, but 
the vehement heat of the sun, joined with the fatigue 
of the journey, and the excessive thirst he endured, 
would not suffer him to go any farther : in a word, 
he was brought to that extremity of weakness and de 
bility, that there were now no hopes left of his life, so 
that his companions fearing lest the same should be 
their own case if they did not make the best of their 
way out of the burning desert, thought of leaving him, 
aince they could no longer be of any service to him. 
Seeing them about to depart from him, he conjured 
them for Christ s sake not to. suffer him to die without 
baptism, since he ardently desired to die a Christian. 
They answered, that there was not one amongst them 
who could bapthe him, as this sacrament could nol 


by any means be administered -without water, which 
could not possibly be had in those burning sands ; but 
as he still persevered in begging and praying with 
many tears, that they would not be so cruel as to suf 
fer him to die without making him a Christian, one cf 
the company, inspired as we may believe from heaven, 
desired the rest to lift and hold him up, for he was 
not able to stand by himself, when filling both his 
hands with sand, he poured it upon his head at three 
effusions, repeating at the same time the form of words 
used by the Church in the administration of baptism, 
to which all the company answered, Amen. When 
behold, " As God is my witness, brethien," said the 
abbot to us, " the man who was dying before was so 
suddenly and perfectly healed, and strengthened by 
Christ our Lord, that there remained in him not the 
least signs of illness, or weakness, or of having suffered 
any thing whatsoever ;, but, on the contrary, he appear 
ed to possess a sound, strong, and florid countenance, 
and performed the remainder of the journey through 
the desert with such wonderful alacrity, as to be al 
ways the foremost of the company." The abbot also 
related, how that as soon as they entered into Pales 
tine and came to the city of Ascalon, they carried the 
convert to the holy bishop Dionysius, recounting to 
him all that had happened, and his miraculous cure 
upon his being baptized with the sand. The good 
prelate glorified our Lord for his goodness and mercy 


shown on this occasion ; but after consulting with his 
clergy, he concluded that as neither scripture nor tra 
dition allow of the administering baptism otherwise 
than in water, the man ought to be baptized in water 
as the Church prescribes ; and for greater solemnity 
he sent him away to the banks of the Jordan, that he 
might be baptized in the same font wherein our Lord 
himself was baptized. 

95. When we were in the isle of Saraos, Lady 
Mary, the venerable and charitable matron, mother of 
the courtier Paul, related to us that whilst she resided 
at Nisibis, in Mesopotamia, there lived in that city a 
very pious Christian woman who was married to a pa 
gan husband, but a well-meaning simple man. Being 
low in their circumstances, they had only a small sum 
of about fifty pieces of silver by them, which the hus 
band designed to put out to use. The wife told him 
the best way he could put his money out was to give 
it to Jesus Christ, the God of the Christians, for that 
no one gave such good interest for money as he did, 
for that he would even return the principal double. 
Having asked her where he could find this God ot 
the Christians, that he might put out his money into 
his hands, she led him to the church porch, and there 
showing him a number of poor people, told him thai 
whatever was given to the poor the God of the Chris 
tians would accept of as given to himself, and repay 
it with interest ; whereupon without hesitation he 


cheerfully distributed the whole sum amongst the 
poor. After a lapse of three months, finding himself 
in some straits, he told his wife that the God of the 
Christians seemed not to take any notice of the debt, 
now that he stood in want of money ; but she, strong 
in faith, bid him go to the place where he had lent 
him the money, and no doubt he should be paid. 
Accordingly he went to the church, where he saw the 
poor to whom he had given the money, but met with 
no one that offered to reimburse what he had lent 
them, or pay him any interest. At length, whilst he 
was considering within himself what he should do, or 
to whom he was to address himself, he saw a piece ot 
silver lying at his feet, which he took up, and having 
carried it home, his wife told him that the God of the 
Christians, who, without being seen by us, disposes ot 
all things, and provides for the whole world, had sent 
him that piece of money, and desired him to go and 
buy with it what they wanted for that day, assuring 
him that he would not fail to provide for them also 
for the time to come. Having gone to market with 
the money, he bought some bread and wine, and a 
fish, which he gave to his wife to dress for their din 
ner, when behold upon opening the fish she found in 
its entrails a precious stone of admirable beauty, which 
he showed to her husband, and he, without knowing 
the value of it, carried it to a jeweller to sell. The 
jeweller at first sight bid him five pieces of silver for 


it. " What," says he to himself, " so much as that?" 
supposing the man not to be serious. The jeweiie? 
then bid him ten pieces ; but he still thinking him to 
be in jest, as he had no idea of the value of the stone, 
stood silent ; but when he offered him twenty, then 
thirty, and afterwards forty, and had at length rose to 
fifty pieces of silver, lie began to be convinced that the 
jewel was worth a great deal more, and stood out for 
a higher price. The jeweller advancing gradually, at 
last offered him three hundred pieces of silver, which 
be agreed to take, and carried the money home to his 
wife. From thence she took occasion to represent to 
him how liberally he had been dealt with by the God 
of the Christians, and how kind and how bountiful he 
must be, who for the fifty pieces of silver he had lent 
to him three months before, had returned him in so 
short a space of time, three hundred. This wonder 
ful event was immediately followed by the conversion 
of the man, who ceased not afterwards to glorify God 
for his infinite goodness, and to hold himself highly 
indebted to the wisdom and piety of his religious wife, 
who had been the happy instrument by which he was 
brought to the knowledge of the saving religion of 
Jesus Christ. 

96. When we were at Alexandria, in the days of 
the holy patriarch Eulogius, the cotemporary and in- 
tima-te friend of St. Gregory the Great, we met with 
Leontius of Aparnea, a most religious and faithfaj 


man. who lived for many years at Gyrene, and came 
to b3 consecrated bishop of that see, from whom we 
heard the following history : In the days of the patri 
arch Theophilus, a famous philosopher, called Syne- 
BWS, was made bishop of Gyrene, who had an intimate 
friend, a philosopher also, whose name was Evagrius. 
This man, being a pagan, was very averse to the chris- 
tian religion, to which the holy prelate would gladly 
have brought him over ; he particularly objected 
against the articles of the resurrection of the dead, and 
of the eternal rewards and punishments of the world 
to come. Synesius, however, was not discouraged 
with the resistance he met with, and did not desist 
from using all the means in his power for the conver 
sion of his old friend, till the grace of God blessing 
his endeavors, Evagrius at length determined to em 
brace the christian faith, and was baptized with his 
whole family. Some time after he brought a bag of 
three hundred pieces of gold to the bishop, and put it 
in his hands for the use of the poor, desiring lie would 
be pieased to give him a note under liis own hand, 
that Christ would repay him in the world to come, 
with which proposal Synesius readily complied. Eva 
grius some years after fell ill of a distemper, of which 
he died ; and being near his end, he gave the bishop s 
note of hand to his sons, r esiring it might be buried 
with him. The sons, according to his desire, put the 
note into the hand of the father s corpse, and buriec 


him with it. Three nights after Evagrius appeared to 
Synesius in his sleep, and bid him go to the monu 
ment where his body lay, in order to recei/e back his 
note, for that the whole had been repaid to him ; and 
that in testimony thereof, he should find an acquit 
tance, written by his (Evagrius s) own hand. The 
bishop next morning sent for the young men, asked 
them if they had not buried some paper with their 
father ? They acknowledged that at his request they 
had, but that no one besides themselves knew any 
thing of the matter. Then taking them along with 
him, together with his clergy, and the principal men 
of the city, he ordered the tomb to be opened in their 
presence, where they found the philosopher lying, with 
the paper in his hand, which when they had taken 
from thence and opened, they saw at the bottom an 
acquittance, which appeared to be newly written, in 
Evngrius s own hand, whereby he acknowledged that 
he had received the contents, and was fully satisfied 
foi the whole sum which he had given by the hands 
of Synesius to Jesus Christ our God and Saviour. 
This note and acquittance, as the same Leontius as 
sured us, is kept to this day in the treasury of the 
church of Gyrene, and is always, in a special manner, 
recommended to the care of the treasurer of that 

97. One of the fathers related to us, that being at 
Constantinople upon some necessary business, whilsj 


he was sitting one day in the church, a gentleman of 
condition came up, and saluting him, desired to sit 
down by his side to hear from him some lessons for 
the good of his soul. The father told him that if he 
made a good use of the things of the earth, it would 
be a great means to bring him to heavenly goods 
"Father," said he "you are in the right; and that 
man is truly happy who places his confidence in God, 
and commits himself wholly to his providence. My 
father, who was a gentleman of distinction and opu 
lence, but a great alms-giver, who distributed large 
sums of money to the poor, asked me one day, after 
giving me an account of all his worldly wealth, whether 
I chose that he should reserve it to bequeath wholly 
to me at his de?.th, or whether he should dispose of it 
in the marine je had begun, by giving it to Christ by 
the hands o e r je poor, and to leave me Christ for my 
guardian ana trustee. I told him I was very well sa 
tisfied with his disposing of his worldly substance in 
charity, and that I chose Christ before all worldly 
riches, which quickly pass away ; they are with us to 
day and gone to-morrow, but Christ remains for ever. 
After this, my father became so liberal in his alms, 
that at his death he left me very poor, but not without 
the utmost confidence in Christ, to whose care he had 
committed me. There happened to be at this time 
another gentleman of distinction in the city, exceeding 
rich, vh v;is married to a very pious Christian lady, 


who greatly feared our Lord. This worthy couple had 
one onlv daughter to inherit all their substance ; and 
aa she was now marriageable, the wife proposed to her 
husband, that instead of giving her in marriage tc 
some rich nobleman, who, if he were not a servant of 
God, might make her miserable, they should rather 
look out for some virtuous humble man that feared 
God, and would both love and cherish her, and go 
hand in hand with her to heaven; for riches they 
wanted none for her, having a large fortune to give 
her ; and therefore virtue and happiness was all they 
had to seek for. The husband being of the same way 
of thinking, bid her go to church and recommend the 
matter earnestly to God ; and after praying, with all 
possible fervor, then address herself to the first person 
whom God should send into the church, as to the man 
designed by providence to be the husband of their 
daughter. Having accordingly gone to church, after 
&he had finished her prayers, she sat down ; and, as 
providence had ordered it, I was the first that entered. 
As soon as she perceived me, she sent her servant to 
call me, and having inquired of me who or whence I 
was ? I told her I was a native of this city, and the 
Bon of such a one. What, said she, of that gentle 
man who gave away all his estate in alms? Yes, re 
plied I, of the same. Are you married, said she ? I 
answered, no* and told her all my father had said, 
when he left me Christ for my guardian and trustee 


Hereupon she glorified God, and told me that my 
good guardian had provided both a wife and a plenti 
ful estate for me, and wished me to use them both with 
the fear of God. Thus I received both her daughter 
and all her worldly substance; and I pray God that 
I may walk to the end of my life in the footsteps of 
my father." 

98. Another of the fathers related to us concerning 
a certain lady of the first quality, who, after visiting 
the holy places, and performing other devotions in 
Jerusalem, went down to Cesarea to fix her abode in 
that city. Here she desired the bishop to place some 
religious woman with her, who might teach her hu 
mility and the fear of God. The bishop made choice 
of a virtuous, humble maid, whom he recommended 
to her for that purpose. After some time he asked 
her how she liked the companion he had placed with 
her ? She is good, said she, but is of no great service 
to my soul ; for siie is so exceedingly humble, that 
she lets me do whatever I please, and never contra 
dicts me. Upon this the bishop sent a woman of a 
more rough and untowardly disposition to her, who 
tailed not to afford the good lady frequent opportuni 
ties of exercising her patience, as well as her humility 
and charity, in bearing with her sour temper, her un 
ruly tongue, her perpetual contradictions and reproach 
es. After some time the bishop again desired to know 
how she liked her new companion ? She answered, 


that she had reason to be contented with her, because 
she was of essential service to her soul, by teaching 
her patience, meekness, and humility, which are best 
learnt in the school of reproaches and contradictions. 

99. Another told us, that there happened to oe a 
dispute between two neighboring bishops upon a Jfairs 
relating to their respective dioceses, which was like to 
turn out very much to the prejudice of the weaker of 
the two, because his antagonist was a politica man, 
and one that had great power and interest. Where 
fore, being sensible of his danger, he assembled one 
day all his clergy, and told them he had found out an 
expedient, by means of which, through the grace of 
Christ, he made no doubt but they should gain their 
cause and overcome their adversary. They could not 
comprehend how this could possibly be, considering 
the power and the craft of the man with whom they 
had to contend. Well, said he, stop a little, and you 
shall see the goodness of God. On such a day they 
celebrate the feast of the holy martyrs with great so 
lemnity in that diocese, therefore you shall accom 
pany me thither, and provided you imitate me in 
whatever I shall then do, we shall certainly carry our 
cause. Having assured them they would, on the day 
appointed they all followed him to the neighboring 
city, although ignorant of the means whereby he in 
tended to overcome his adversary. At their arrival 
they foun \ the whole people assembled, with theil 


bishop and his clergy ; when, without a moment s 
hesitation, the humble prelate advanced, his clergy all 
following him, and, together with them prostrated 
hitnself at the feet of the other bishop, saying : For- 
jive us, my good lord, we are all of us your servants. 
The other, struck with astonishment at such profound 
humility, and at the same time touched with com 
punction, God changing his heart, fell also down upon 
his face, and taking hold of the feet of his fellow bish 
op, cried out : It is you that are both my Lord and 
my father : and from that moment their dispute was 
happily terminated, and they ever after lived in per 
fect concord and mutual charity. Thus the good pre 
late, by his humility, gained both his cause and the 
heart of his adversary, and told his clergy upon the 
occasion, that this was the true way to overcome their 

100. A certain brother being assaulted with sad 
ness, applied to one of the fathers, asking what he 
should do to prevent his thoughts from continually 
suggesting to him, that he was but losing his time in 
religion, and could never be saved ? " Brother," said 
the father, " whatever you do, never think of going 
back to the world which you have renounced. If 
we cannot arrive at the land of promise, it i better 
or us to die in the wilderness, than to return into 

101. Gregory, th Governor of the province of 


Africa, a good Christian and great lover of the poof 
and the religious, related to us the following history 
which happened in our times in his native country, 
the district of Apamea in Syria. There is in that part 
of the world a place called Gonagus, forty miles dis 
tant from the city of Apamea, in the neighborhood of 
v. hich some country boys, by the way of play took 
upon themselves to mimic the sacrifice of the mass and 
the holy communion, according to what they had seen 
done by the priests in the church. For this purpose 
they appointed one of their number to officiate as 
priest, and two others to assist as deacon and sub-dea 
con ; and making a large stone, in the middle of the 
field, serve for an altar, they placed some bread and 
some wine in an earthen cup upon it. Then he that 
personated the priest, having his two ministers on 
each hand of him, recited the words of the sacred ob 
lation and consecration, which he had learnt by heart, 
by being near the altar, as in some places the priests 
recited them aloud, and proceeded in the mass till to 
wards the end of the canon ; but before they came to 
the breaking of the bread and the communion, a fire 
descended from heaven, which instantaneously con 
sumed both all they -had set upon their altar, and the 
stone itself, so as to leave no mark or trace of them 
remaining. Upon which they all fell to the ground, 
half dead with the fright, and for some time could 
o?ith-r recover speech or motion. In this condition 


they were found by their friends and carried home ; 
to whom, as soon as they were able to speak, they re 
counted all that had happened, whilst the marks of the 
ire, in the place where it fell, plainly demonstrated 
he truth of what they related. The bishop of Apa- 
mea, on hearing of this extraordinary event, came out 
with all his clergy, and took cognizance of the whok 
matter upon the spot, by first examining the boys, and 
then viewing the footsteps of the fire, and in the con 
clusion caused a monastery to be built and a church 
erected in the field, the altar of which he fixed in the 
Tery spot where the fire had fallen. As to the boys, 
he placed them all in religious houses, one of whom 
afterwards became a monk in the said monastery, 
where Gregory, the governor, who related to us thie 
wonderful history, saw him, and knew him.